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uifij .aillllj&ili inn 



SUPLEE'S trench 



supl£e*s trench on words. 






revised by 

The Rev. A. L. Mavhew 

With an Exhaustive Analysis, Additional Words fob 
Illustration, and Questions for Examination 



3 A 5 Wmt i«th Struct, xbab 5 th Arams 

ComUGHT, X877, BY W. J. WlDDUTOK. 




In all essential points this edition of The Study 
of Words is the same book as the last edition. 
The aim of the editor has been to alter as little 
of Archbishop Trench's work as possible. In 
the arrangement of the book, in the order of 
the chapters and paragraphs, in the style, in the 
general presentation of the matter, no change 
has been made. On the other hand, the work 
has been thoroughly revised and corrected. A 
great deal of thought and labor has of late 
been bestowed on English philology, and there 
has been a great advance in the knowledge of 
the laws regulating the development of the 
sounds of English words, and the result has 
& been that many a derivation once generally 

i accepted has had to be given up as phonetically 

^ impossible. An attempt has been made to 

* 0/ 


purge the book of all erroneous etymologies, and 
to correct in the text small matters of detail. 
There have also been added some footnotes, in 
which difficult points are discussed and where 
reference is given to recent authorities. All 
editorial additions, whether in the text or in 
the notes, are enclosed in square brackets. It is 
hoped that the book as it now stands does not 
contain in its etymological details anything in- 
consistent with the latest discoveries of English 


A. L. Mayhew. 

Wadham College, Oxford; 
August, 1888. 


IT is now twenty-six years since Dean Trench's book 
" On the Study of Words " was first given to the public. 
Originally addressed to the pupils of the Diocesan Training 
School at Winchester, in the shape of lectures, and retaining 
that form in publication, the book was but poorly adapted 
for use in the school-room as a text-book. The editor has 
long deplored this, in common with many other teachers ; 
hence no apology is necessary for the appearance of the 
present volume. The advantages claimed for it, over all 
other editions, are about as follows : 

i. A complete and exhaustive analysis of the revised 
text has been added. 

2. A set of questions has been prepared, designed not 
only to call forth the facts stated by the author, but also to 
follow up lines of thought suggested by him. 

3. At the end of each lecture a list of words has been 
added, illustrating its various topics, and intended to en- 
courage original research on the part of the pupil. 

The nev/ arrangement or ths t xt, analysis, and questions 
cannot fail to be of great assistance both to the teacher a.,d 


pupil. It is recommended that the latter be compelled to 
commit the outlines and exercises to memory, place them 
on the blackboard, and then, assuming the role of lecturer, 
proceed to expand the leading ideas. In this way the best 
results of the analytical method of teacning are secured, 
and the pupil is trained to think and talk while on the floor. 
As these helps have already been of great service to the 
editor in the work of teaching, it is hoped that they may 
also assist others, now that they are associated with the 
following lectures. 

Thomas D. Supine. 


THESE lectures will not, I trust, be found any- 
where to have left out of sight seriously, or for 
long, the peculiar needs of those for whom they were 
originally intended, and to whom they were prima- 
rily addressed. I am conscious, indeed, here and 
there, of a certain departure from my first intention, 
having been in part seduced to this by a circumstance 
which I had not in the least contemplated when I ob- 
tained permission to deliver them, by finding, namely, 
that I should have other hearers besides the pupils of 
the Training-School. Some matter adapted for those 
rather than for these I was thus led to introduce — 
which afterwards I was unwilling, in preparing for the 
press, to remove ; on the contrary adding to it rather, 
in the hope of obtaining thus a somewhat wider circle 
of readers than I could have hoped, had I more rig- 
idly restricted myself in the choice of my materials. 
Yet I should greatly regret to have admitted so much 
of this as should deprive these lectures of their fitness 
for those whose profit in writing and in publishing I 
had mainly in view, namely, schoolmasters and those 
preparing to be such. 
Had I known any book entering with any fulness. 


and in a popular manner, into the subject-matter of 
these pages, and making it its exclusive theme, I 
might still have delivered these lectures, but should 
scarcely have sought for them a wider audience than 
their first, gladly leaving the matter in their hands, 
whose studies in language had been fuller and riper 
than my own. But abundant and ready to hand as 
are the materials for such a book, I did not ; while 
yet it seems to me that the subject is one to which it 
is beyond measure desirable that their attention, who 
are teaching, or shall have hereafter to teach others, 
should be directed ; so that they shall learn to regard 
language as one of the chiefest organs of their own 
education and that of others. For I am persuaded 
that I have used no exaggeration in saying, that for 
many a young man "his first discovery that words 
are living powers, has been like the dropping of 
scales from his eyes, like the acquiring of another 
sense, or the introduction into a new world," — while 
yet all this maybe indefinitely deferred, may, indeed, 
never find place at all, unless there is some one at 
hand to help for him, and to hasten the process ; and 
he who so does, will ever after be esteemed by him as 
one of his very foremost benefactors. Whatever may 
be Home Tooke's shortcomings (and they are great), 
whether in details of etymology, or in the philosophy 
of grammar, or in matters more serious still, yet, 
with all this, what an epoch in many a student's in- 
tellectual life has been his first acquaintance with The 
Diversions of Purley. And they were not among the 
least of the obligations which the young men of our 
time owed to Coleridge, that he so often himself 


weighed words in the balances, and so earnestly 
pressed upon all with whom his voice went for any- 
thing, the profit which they would find in so doing. 
Nor, with the certainty that I am anticipating much 
in my little volume, can I refrain from quoting some 
words which were not present with me during its com- 
position, although I must have been familiar with 
them long ago ; words which express excellently well 
why it is that these studies profit so much, and which 
will also explain the motives which induced me to 
add my little contribution to their furtherance : 

" A language will often be wiser, not merely than 
the vulgar, but even than the wisest of those who 
speak it. Bejng like amber in its efficacy to circu- 
late the electric spirit of truth, it is also like amber 
in embalming and preserving the relics of ancient 
wisdom, although one is not seldom puzzled to 
decipher its contents. Sometimes it locks up truths, 
which were once well known, but which, in the 
course of ages, have passed out of sight and been 
forgotten. In other cases it holds the germs of 
truths, of which, though they were never plainly 
discerned, the genius of its framers caught a glimpse 
in a happy moment of divination. A meditative man 
cannot refrain from wonder, when he digs down to 
the deep thought lying at the root of many a meta- 
phorical term, employed for the designation of 
spiritual things, even of those with regard to which 
professing philosophers have blundered grossly ; and 
often it would seem as though rays of truth, which 
were still below the intellectual horizon, had dawned 
upon the imagination as it was looking up to heaven. 


Hence they who feel an inward call to teach and 
enlighten their countrymen, should deem it an im- 
portant part of their duty to draw out the stores of 
thought which are already latent in their native 
language, to purify it from the corruptions whicJi 
Time brings upon all things, and from which language 
has no exemption, and to endeavor to give distinct- 
ness and precision to whatever in it is confused, or 
obscure, or dimly seen." — Guesses at Truth, First 
Series, p. 295. 

Itchznstokk, Oct. 9, 185 1. 




I. Study of words not tedious. 
. II. Language fossil poetry. 

III. " " ethics. 

IV. " " history. 
V. Origin of language. 

VI. Language of savage tribes. 
VII. Poverty of languages. 
VIII. Savage vocabularies. 
IX. Words the guardians of thoughts. 
X. The birth of language. 
XI. Greatness of a language. 
XII. Agreement between names and things. 

XIII. Names changed to worse. 

XIV. Prophecy in names. 
XV. Significance of names. 

XVI. Words, implements of teaching. 



I. Unconscious poetry. 
II. Poetry of popular language. 

III. " in the names of places. 

IV. " •, « « flowers. 
V. " " " animals. 

VI. Poetic legends in words. 
VII. Revival of poetry in words. 


VIII. Poeto* of nomenclature. 

IX. " in architectural terms* 
X. " " the changes of words. 

V XL Man a born poet 



I. The witness of language. 
II. Records of sin in language. 

III. Degeneration of words. 

IV. Elevation of words. 

V. Attestations to God's troth in words. 
VI. Failings of the human heart shown by word* 
VII. Moral perversity in words. 
VIII. The fatalist's use of words. 
IX. Fair words for ugly things. 
X. Question-begging words. 
XI. National morals in words. 
XII. Absence of words from a language* 

XIII. Potency of words. 



L Consanguinity of languages. 
II. Saxon and Norman relations. 

III. Language the oldest history. 

IV. History in single words. 

V. Contributions of the Crusades. 
VI. " " Church. 

VII. " " Schoolmen. 

VIII. Influence of words on opinions. 
IX Legends in natural history. 

X. Historical misnomers. 

XI. Importance of correctness in naming. 
XII. Names of parties, sects, and officials. 
XIIL History of commerce in words. 

XIV. Transformation of proper names. 
XV. Names drawn from books. 


XVI. Mistakes in words and etymologies. 
XVII. Words embodying past customs and error* 
XVIII. Legends in words. 
XIX. Needless scruples about words. 
XX. Rise and fall of words. 



I. First appearance of words. 
II. Rise of the term "Christians." 
III. How new words become necessary. 
IV Christianity and the classical languages. 
V. Effect of increased knowledge on words* 
VI. Deliberate coining of words. 
VII. Wants detected and supplied. 
VIII. Cicero's coinings. 
IX. Comprehensive words. 
X. Scientific gains. 
XI. New things require new names. 
XII. French contributions. 

XIII. Contributions of English history. 

XIV. Comic words. 

XV. Resistance to new words. 

XVI. Late birth of new words. 

XVII. Naturalization of words. 

XVIII. Popular origin of words. 

XIX. Derivations forgotten or lost sight o£ 
XX. " irrecoverable. 

XXI. Parentage of words. 

XXIL Testimony of WhcwelL 



I. Definition and discussion of synonym*, 

II. Difficulties of translation. 

III. Words liable to be confounded. 

IV. How synonyms exist. 


V. Process of desynony miring. 

VI. Words which require nice discrimination. 

VII. Duplicate words. 

VIII. Words once synonymous. 

IX Greek and Latin synonyms. 

X. Synonyms having fundamental etymological distinctions. 

XI. Improper synonyms. 

XII. Present value of words. 

XIII. Milton's etymologies. 

XIV. Moral gain of synonyms. 
XV. Synonyms in controversy. 

XVI. Historical synonyms. 
XVII. Habit of distinguishing synonyms. 
XVIII. Words left unemployed. 
XIX. Truth and falsehood of words. 



T. The material helps of education. 
II. Learning and teaching. 

III. Etymological resemblances. 

IV. Random etymologies. 

. V. Accidental coincidences. 
VI. Phonetic spelling. 
VII. Relationship of words. 
VIII. Heterodynamic words. 
IX. Words which provoke and reward inquiry. 
X. Classics, why so called. 
XI. Words borrowed from life. 
XII. Relaxation and amusement in the study of words; 

XIII. Significance of the names of places. 

XIV. Social and political changes in names. 

XV. Words compared to money. 
XVI. Church words. 

XVIL Latin words in an English dress* 



THERE are few who would not readily ac- 
knowledge that mainly in worthy books are 
preserved and hoarded the treasures of wisdom and 
knowledge which the world has accumulated ; and 
that chiefly by aid of books they are handed down 
from one generation to another. I shall urge on 
you in these lectures something different from this ; 
namely, that not in books only, which all acknowl- 
edge, nor yet in connected oral discourse, but often 
also in words contemplated singly, there are bound- 
less stores of moral and historic truth, and no less 
of passion and imagination, laid up — that from 
these, lessons of infinite worth may be derived, if 
only our attention is roused to their existence. I 
shall urge on you how well it will repay you to 
study the words which you are in the habit of using 
or of meeting, be they such as relate to highest 
spiritual things, or our common words of the shop 
and the market, and of all the familiar intercourse 
of daily life. It will indeed repay you far better 


than you can easily believe. I am sure, at least, 
that for many a young man his first discovery of the 
fact that words are living powers, are the vesture, 
yea, even the body, which thoughts weave for 
themselves, has been like the dropping of scales 
from his eyes, like the acquiring of another sense, 
or the introduction into a new world ; he is never 
able to cease wondering at the moral marvels that 
surround him on every side, and ever reveal them- 
selves more and more to his gaze. 

We indeed hear it not seldom said that ignorance 
is the mother of admiration. No falser word was 
ever spoken, and hardly a more mischievous one ; 
implying, as it does, that this healthiest exercise of 
the mind rests, for the most part, on a deceit and a 
delusion, and that with larger knowledge it would 
cease ; while, in truth, for once that ignorance leads 
us to admire that which with fuller insight we 
should perceive to be a common thing, one demand- 
ing no such tribute from us, a hundred, nay, a 
thousand times, it prevents us from admiring that 
which is admirable indeed. And this is so, whether 
we are moving in the region of nature, which is the 
region of God's wonders, or in the region of art, 
which is the region of man's wonders ; and nowhere 
truer than in this sphere and region of language, 
which is about to claim us now. Oftentimes here 
we walk up and down in the midst of intellectual 
and moral marvels with a vacant eye and a careless 
mind ; even as some traveller passes unmoved over 
fields of fame, or through cities of ancient renown — 
unmoved, because utterly unconscious of the lofty 


deeds which there have been wrought, of the great 
hearts which spent themselves there. We, like 
him, wanting the knowledge and insight which 
would have served to kindle admiration in us, are 
oftentimes deprived of this pure and elevating 
excitement of the mind, and miss no less that man- 
ifold instruction which ever lies about our path, and 
nowhere more largely than in our daily words, if 
only we knew how to put forth our hands and make 
it our own. ' What riches/ one exclaims, ' lie hid- 
den in the vulgar tongue of our poorest and most 
ignorant ! What flowers of paradise lie under our 
feet, with their beauties and their parts undis- 
tinguished and undiscerned, from having been daily 
trodden on.' 

And this subject upon which we are thus entering 
ought not to be a dull or uninteresting one in the 
handling, or one to which only by an effort you will 
yield the attention which I shall claim. If it shall 
prove so, this I fear must be through the fault of 
my manner of treating it ; for certainly in itself 
there is no study which may be made at once more 
instructive and entertaining than the study of the 
use and abuse, the origin and distinction of words, 
with an investigation, slight though it may be, of 
the treasures contained in them ; which is exactly 
that which I now propose to myself and to you. I 
remember a very learned scholar, to whom we owe 
one of our best Greek lexicons, a book which must 
have cost him years, speaking in the preface of his 
completed work with a just disdain of some, who 
complained of the irksome drudgery of such toils as 


those which had engaged him so long, — toils irk- 
some, forsooth, because they only had to do with 
words. He disclaims any part with those who 
asked pity for themselves, as so many galley-slaves 
chained to the oar, or martyrs who had offered 
themselves for the good of the literary world. He 
declares that the task of classing, sorting, grouping, 
comparing, tracing the derivation and usage of 
words, had been to him no drudgery, but a delight 
and labor of love.* 

And if this may be true in regard of a foreign 
tongue, how much truer ought it to be in regard of 
our own, of our ' mother tongue,' as we affectionately 
call it. A great writer not very long departed from 
us has borne witness at once to the pleasantness 
and profit of this study. ' In a language/ he says, 
' like ours, where so many words are derived from 
other languages, there are few modes of instruction 
more useful or more amusing than that of accus- 
toming young people to seek for the etymology or 
primary meaning of the words they use. There are 
cases in which more knowledge of more value may 
be conveyed by the history of a word than by 
the history of a campaign.' So writes Coleridge ; 
and impressing the same truth, Emerson has some- 
where characterized language as 'fossil poetry.' 
He evidently means that just as in some fossil, 
curious and beautiful shapes of vegetable or ani- 
mal life, the graceful fern or the finely vertebrated 

* It is well worth the while to read on this same subject the pleasant 
causerie of Littrl, * Comment j'ai fait mon Dictionnaire.' It is to be 
found pp. 390-442 of his Gldnures, 


lizard, such as now, it may be, have been ex- 
tinct for thousands of years, are permanently bound 
up with the stone, and rescued from that perishing 
which would else have been their portion, — so in 
words are beautiful thoughts and images, the imag- 
ination and the feeling of past ages, of men long 
since in their graves, of men whose very names 
have perished, there are these, which might so eas- 
ily have perished too, preserved and made safe for 
ever. The phrase is a striking one ; the only fault 
one can find with it is that it is too narrow. Lan- 
guage may be, and indeed is, this i fossil poetry ' ; 
but it may be affirmed of it with exactly the same 
truth that it is fossil ethics, or fossil history. Words 
quite as often and as effectually embody facts of 
history, or convictions of the moral sense, as of the 
imagination or passion of men ; even as, so far as 
that moral sense may be perverted, they will bear 
witness and keep a record of that perversion. On 
all these points I shall enter at full in after lectures; 
but I may give by anticipation a specimen or two 
of what I mean, to make from the first my purpose 
and plan more fully intelligible to all. 

Language then is ' fossil poetry ' ; in other words, 
we are not to look for the poetry which a people 
may possess only in its poems, or its poetical cus- 
toms, traditions, and beliefs. Many a single word 
also is itself a concentrated poem, having stores of 
poetical thought and imagery laid up in it. Exam- 
ine it, and it will be found to rest on some deep an- 
alogy of things natural and things spiritual ; bring- 
ing those to illustrate and to give an abiding form 


and body to these. The image may have grown 
trite and ordinary now : perhaps through the help 
of this very word may have become so entirely the 
heritage of all, as to seem little better than a com- 
monplace ; yet not the less he who first discerned 
the relation, and devised the new word which should 
express it, or gave to an old, never before but liter- 
ally used, this new and figurative sense, this man 
was in his degree a poet — a maker, that is, of things 
which were not before, which would not have exist- 
ed but for him, or for some other gifted with equal 
powers. He who spake first of a ' dilapidated ' for- 
tune, what an image must have risen up before his 
mind's eye of some falling house or palace, stone 
detaching itself from stone, till all had gradually 
sunk into desolation and ruin. Or he who to that 
Greek word which signifies i that which will endure 
to be held up to and judged by the sunlight/ gave 
first its ethical signification of 4 sincere/ ' truthful/ 
or as we sometimes say, ' transparent/ can we deny 
to him the poet's feeling and eye ? Many a man 
had gazed, we are sure, at the jagged and indented 
mountain ridges of Spain, before one called them 
4 sierras' or 'saws/ the name by which now they are 
known, as Sierra Morena, Sierra Nevada ; but that 
man coined his imagination into a word which will 
endure as long as the everlasting hills which he 

But it was said just now that words often contain 
a witness for great moral truths — God having 
pressed such a seal of truth upon language that 
men are continually uttering deeper things than 


they know, asserting mighty principles, it may be 
asserting them against themselves, in words that 
to them may seem nothing more than the current 
coin of society. Thus to what grand moral pur- 
poses Bishop Butler turns the word ' pastime '; how 
solemn the testimony which he compels the world, 
out of its own use of this word, to render against 
itself— obliging it to own that its amusements and 
pleasures do not really satisfy the mind and fill it 
with the sense of an abiding and satisfying joy : * 
they are only ' pastime '; they serve only, as this 
word confesses, to pass away the time, to prevent 
it from hanging, an intolerable burden, on men's 
hands : all which they can do at the best is to pre- 
vent men from discovering and attending to their 
own internal poverty and dissatisfaction and want. 
He might have added that there is the same 
acknowledgment in the word ' diversion,' which 
means no more than that which diverts or turns us 
aside from ourselves, and in this way helps us to 
forget ourselves for a little. And thus it would 
appear that, even according to the world's own 

* Sermon xiv. Upon the Love of God. Curiously enough, Mon- 
taigne has, in his Essays, drawn the same testimony out of the word : 
« This ordinary phrase of Pass-time, and passing away the time, repre- 
sents the custom of those wise sort of people, who think they cannot 
have a better account of their lives than to let them run out and slide 
away, to pass them over and to baulk them, and as much as they can 
to take no notice of them, and to shun them as a thing of troublesome 
and contemptible quality. But I know it to be another kind of thing, 
and find it both valuable and commodious even in its latest decay, 
wherein I now enjoy it, and nature has delivered it into our hands in 
iuch and so favorable circumstances that we commonly complain of our- 
selves, if it be troublesome to us or slide unprofitably away.' 


confession, all which it proposes is— not to make us 
happy, but a little to prevent us from remembering 
that we are unhappy, to pass away our time, to 
divert us from ourselves. While on the other hand 
we declare that the good which will really fill our 
souls and satisfy them to the uttermost, is not in 
us, but without us and above us, in the words which 
we use to set forth any transcending delight. Take 
three or four of these words — ' transport/ ' rapture,' 
'ravishment/ « ecstasy/— ' transport/ that which 
carries us, as * rapture ' or ' ravishment/ that which 
snatches us out of and above ourselves, and 
4 ecstasy' is very nearly the same, only drawn from 
the Greek. 

And not less, where a perversion of the moral 
sense has found place, words preserve oftentimes a 
record of this perversion. We have a signal exam- 
ple of this in the use, or rather misuse, of the words 
* religion ' and * religious ' during the Middle Ages, 
and indeed in many parts of Christendom still. A 
4 religious ' person did not then mean any one who 
felt and owned the bonds that bound him to God 
and to his fellow-men, but one who had taken 
peculiar vows upon him, the member of a monastic 
order, of a ' religion ' as it was called. As little did 
a 'religious' house then mean, nor does it now 
mean in the Church of Rome, a Christian household, 
ordered in the fear of God, but a house in which 
these persons were gathered together according to 
the rule of some man. What a light does this one 
word so used throw on the entire state of mind and 
habits of thought in those ages ! That then was 


'religion/ and alone deserved the name! And 
'religious' was a title which might not be given to 
parents and children, husbands and wives, men and 
women fulfilling faithfully and holily in the world 
the duties of their several stations, but only to 
those who had devised a self-chosen service for 

But language is fossil history as well. What a 
record of great social revolutions, revolutions in 
nations and in the feelings of nations, the one word 
' frank ' contains, which is used, as we all know, to 
express aught that is generous, straightforward, 
and free. The Franks, I need not remind you, 
were a powerful German tribe, or association of 
tribes, who gave themselves + this proud name of 
the ' franks ' or the free ; and who, at the breaking 
up of the Roman Empire, possessed themselves of 
Gaul, to which they gave their own name. They 
were the ruling conquering people, honorably dis- 
tinguished from the Gauls and degenerate Romans 

•A reviewer in Fraser's Magazine, Dec. 1851, doubts whether I 
have not here pushed my assertion too far. So far from this, it was not 
merely the * popular language ' which this corruption had invaded, but 
a decree of the great Fourth Lateran Council (a. d. 1215), forbidding 
the further multiplication of monastic orders, runs thus : Ne nimia 
religionum diversitas gravem in EcclesiA Dei confusionem inducat, 
firmiter prohibemus, ne quis de cetero novam religionem inveniat, 
sed quicunque voluerit ad religionem converti, unam de approbatis 

t [This explanation of the name Franks is now generally given up. 
The name is probably a derivative from a lost O.H.G. *francho y a 
spear or javelin : compare A.S. franca, IceL frakka ; similarly the 
Saxons are supposed to have derived their name from a weapon— Seax, 
a knife; see Kluge's Diet. (s.v. frank)]. 


among whom they established themselves by their 
independence, their love of freedom, their scorn of 
a lie ; they had, in short, the virtues which belong 
to a conquering and dominant race in the midst of 
an inferior and conquered one. And thus it came 
to pass that by degrees the name ' frank ' indicated 
not merely a national, but involved a moral, dis- 
tinction as well ; and a * frank ' man was synony- 
mous not merely with a man of the conquering 
German race, but was an epithet applied to any 
man possessed of certain high moral qualities, 
which for the most part appertained to, and were 
found only in men of that stock ; and thus in men's 
daily discourse, when they speak of a person as 
being ' frank/ or when they use the words ' fran- 
chise,' ' enfranchisement,' to express civil liberties 
and immunities, their language here is the out- 
growth, the record, and the result of great historic 
changes, bears testimony to facts of history, where- 
of it may well happen that the speakers have never 
heard * The word ' slave ' has undergone a process 
entirely analogous, although in an opposite direc- 
tion. *The martial superiority of the Teutonic 
races enabled them to keep their slave markets sup- 
plied with captives taken from the Sclavonic tribes. 
Hence, in all the languages of Western Europe, the 
once glorious name of Slave has come to express 
the most degraded condition of men. What cen- 

* ' Frank,' though thus originally a German word, only came back 
to Germany from France in the seventeenth century. With us it is 
found in the sixteenth, but scarcely earlier. 


turies of violence and warfare does the history of 
this word disclose/ * 

Having given by anticipation this handful of 
examples in illustration of what in these lectures I 
propose, I will, before proceeding further, make a 
few observations on a subject which, if we would go 
at all to the root of the matter, we can scarcely 
leave altogether untouched, — I mean the origin of 
language, in which however we will not entangle 
ourselves deeper than we need. There are, or 
rather there have been, two theories about this. 
One, and that which rather has been than now is, 
for few maintain it still, would put language on the 
same level with the various arts and inventions with 
which man has gradually adorned and enriched his 
life. It would make him by degrees to have in- 
vented it, just as he might have invented any of 
these, for himself ; and from rude, imperfect begin- 
nings, the inarticulate cries by which he expressed 
his natural wants, the sounds by which he sought 
to imitate the impression of natural objects upon 
him, little by little to have arrived at that wondrous 

•Gibbon, Decline and Fall, c. 55. [It is very doubtful whether 
the idea of • glory ' was implied originally in the national name of Slav. 
It is generally held now that the Slavs gave themselves the name as 
being «the intelligible, ' or the « intelligibly speaking ' people; as in the 
case of many other races, they regarded their strange-speaking neigh- 
bors as * barbarian,' that is * stammering,' or even as 'dumb.' So the 
Russians call their neighbors the Germans njemets, connected with 
njemo, indistinct. The old name Slovene, Slavonians, is probably a 
derivative from the substantive which appears in Church Slavonic in 
the form slovo, a word; see fhomsen's /Russia and Scandinavia, p. 8. 
Slovo is closely connected with the old Slavonic word for * fame '— 
slava, hence, no doubt, the explanation of Slave favored by Gibbon.] 


organ of thought and feeling, which his language is 
often to him now. 

It might, I think, be sufficient to object to this 
explanation, that language would then be an acci- 
dent of human nature ; and, this being the case, 
that we certainly should somewhere encounter 
tribes sunken so low as not to possess it ; even as 
there is almost no human art or invention so 
obvious, and as it seems to us so indispensable, 
but there are those who have fallen below its 
knowledge and its exercise. But with language 
it is not so. There have never yet been found 
human beings, not the most degraded horde of 
South African bushmen, or Papuan cannibals, who 
did not employ this means of intercourse with 
one another. But the more decisive objection to 
this view of the matter is, that it hangs together 
with, and is indeed an essential part of, that theory 
of society, which is contradicted alike by every page 
of Genesis, and every notice of our actual exper- 
ience — the l urang-utang theory/ as it has been so 
happily termed — that, I mean, according to which the 
primitive condition of man was the savage one, and 
the savage himself the seed out of which in due time 
the civilized man was unfolded ; whereas, in fact, so 
far from being this living seed, he might more justly 
be considered as a dead withered leaf, torn violently 
away from the great trunk of humanity, and with 
no more power to produce anything nobler than 
himself out of himself, than that dead withered leaf 
to unfold itself into the oak of the forest. So far 
from being the child with the latent capabilities of 


manhood, he is himself rather the man prematurely 
aged, and decrepit, and outworn. 

But the truer answer to the inquiry how language 
arose, is this : God gave man language, just as He 
gave him reason, and just because He gave him 
reason ; for what is man's word but his reason, com- 
ing forth that it may behold itself ? They are in- 
deed so essentially one and the same that the Greek 
language has one word for them both. He gave it 
to him, because he could not be man, that is, a so- 
cial being, without it. Yet this must not be taken to 
affirm that man started at the first furnished with a 
full-formed vocabulary of words, and as it were with 
his first dictionary and first grammar ready-made to 
his hands. He did not thus begin the world with 
names, but with the power of naming : for man is 
not a mere speaking machine ; God did not teach 
him words, as one of us teaches a parrot, from with- 
out ; but gave him a capacity, and then evoked the 
capacity which He gave. Here, as in everthing else 
that concerns the primitive constitution, the great 
original institutes, of humanity, our best and truest 
lights are to be gotten from the study of the first 
three chapters of Genesis ; and you will observe 
that there it is not God who imposed the first names 
on the creatures, but Adam — Adam, however, at 
the direct suggestion of his Creator. He brought 
them all, we are told, to Adam, ' to see what he 
would call them ; and whatsoever Adam called 
every living creature, that was the name thereof 
(Gen. ii. 19). Here we have the clearest intimation 
of the origin, at once divine and human, of speech ; 


while yet neither is so brought forward as to ex- 
clude or obscure the other. 

And so far we may concede a limited amount of 
right to those who have held a progressive acquisi- 
tion, on man's part, of the power of embodying 
thought in words. I believe that we should con- 
ceive the actual case most truly, if we conceived 
this power of naming things and expressing their 
relations, as one laid up in the depths of man's 
being, one of the divine capabilities with which he 
was created : but one (and in this differing from 
those which have produced in various people various 
arts of life) which could not remain dormant in him, 
for man could be only man through its exercise ; 
which therefore did rapidly bud and blossom out 
from within him at every solicitation from the 
world without and from his fellow-man ; as each 
object to be named appeared before his eyes, each 
relation of things to one another arose before his 
mind. It was not merely the possible, but the 
necessary, emanation of the spirit with which he 
had been endowed. Man makes his own language, 
but he makes it as the bee makes its cells, as the 
bird its nest ; he cannot do otherwise.* 

* Renan has much of interest on this matter, both in his work De 
POrigitu du Langage, and in his Hist, des Langues Simitiques. I 
quote from the latter, p. 445: Sans doute les langues, comme tout ce 
qui est organise^ sont sujettes a la loi du developpement graduel. En 
soutenant que le langage primitif posseclait les elements necessaires a 
son integrity nous sommes loin de dire que les mecanismes d'un age 
plus avarice" y fussent arrives a leur pleine existence. Tout y &ait, mais 
confusement et sans distinction. Le temps seul et les progres de l'esprit 
humain pouvaient operer un discernement dans cette obscure synthese, 


How this latent power evolved itself first, how 
this spontaneous generation of language came to 
pass, is a mystery ; even as every act of creation is 
of necessity such ; and as a mystery all the deepest 
inquirers into the subject are content to leave it. 
Yet we may perhaps a little help ourselves to the 
realizing of what the process was, and what it was 
not, if we liken it to the growth of a tree springing 
out of, and unfolding itself from, a root, and accord- 
ing to a necessary law — that root being the divine 
capacity of language with which man was created, 
that law being the law of highest reason with which 
he was endowed : if we liken it to this rather than 
to the rearing of a house, which a man should 
slowly and painfully fashion for himself with dead 
timbers combined after his own fancy and caprice : 
and which little by little improved in shape, mate- 
rial, and size, being first but a log house, answering 
his barest needs, and only after centuries of toil and 
pain growing for his sons' sons into a stately palace 
for pleasure and delight. 

Were it otherwise, were the savage the primitive 
man, we should then find savage tribes, furnished 

et assignor a chaque element son role special. La vie, en un mot, 
n'&ait ici, comme partout, qu'a la condition de Involution du germe 
primitif; de la distribution des roles et de la separation des organes. 
Mais ces organes eux-m&mes furent determines des le premier jour, et 
depuis Facte generateur qui le fit etre, le langage ne s'est enrichi 
d'aucune fonction vraiment nouvelle. Un germe est pos£, renfermant 
en puissance tout ce que l'etre sera un jour ; le germe se developpe, les 
formes se constituent dans leurs proportions regulieres, ce qui 6tait en 
puissance devient en acte ; mais rien ne se cree, rien ne s'ajoute: telle 
est la loi commune des gtres sounds aux conditions de la vie. Telle fut 
aussi la loi du langage. 


scantily enough, it might be, with the elements of 
speech, yet at the same time with its fruitful begin- 
nings, its vigorous and healthful germs. But what 
does their language on close inspection prove ? In 
every case what they are themselves, the remnant 
and ruin of a better and a nobler past. Fearful 
indeed is the impress of degradation which is 
stamped on the language of the savage, more fearful 
perhaps even than that which is stamped upon his 
form. When wholly letting go the truth, when 
long and greatly sinning against light and con- 
science, a people has thus gone the downward way, 
has been scattered off by some violent catastrophe 
from those regions of the world which are the seats 
of advance and progress, and driven to its remote 
isles and further corners, then as one nobler thought, 
one spiritual idea after another has perished from 
it, the words also that expressed these have per- 
ished too. As one habit of civilization has been let 
go after another, the words which those habits 
demanded have dropped as well, first out of use and 
then out of memory, and thus after a while have 
been wholly lost. 

Moffat, in his Missionary Labors and Scenes in 
South Africa, gives us a very remarkable example 
of the disappearing of one of the most significant 
words from the language of a tribe sinking ever 
deeper in savagery ; and with the disappearing of 
the word, of course, the disappearing as well of the 
great spiritual fact and truth whereof that word 
was at once the vehicle and the guardian. The 
Bechuanas, a Caffre tribe, employed formerly the 


word ' Morimo,' to designate ' Him that is above/ 
or ' Him that is in heaven,' and attached to the 
word the notion of a supreme Divine Being. This 
word, with the spiritual idea corresponding to it, 
Moffat found to have vanished from the language 
of the present generation, although here and there 
he could meet with an old man, scarcely one or 
two in a thousand, who remembered in his youth to 
have heard speak of ' Morimo* ; and this word, once 
so deeply significant, only survived now in the spells 
and charms of the so-called rain-makers and sor- 
cerers, who misused it to designate a fabulous 
ghost, of whom they told the absurdest and most 
contradictory things. 

And as there is no such witness to the degrada- 
tion of the savage as the brutal poverty of his lan- 
guage, so is there nothing that so effectually tends 
to keep him in the depths to which he has fallen. 
You cannot impart to any man more than the words 
which he understands either now contain, or can be 
made, intelligibly to him, to contain. Language is 
as truly on one side the limit and restraint of thought, 
as on the other side that which feeds and unfolds 
thought. Thus it is the ever-repeated complaint of 
the missionary that the very terms are well-nigh or 
wholly wanting in the dialect of the savage whereby 
to impart to him heavenly truths ; and not these 
only ; but that there are equally wanting those 
which should express the nobler emotions of the 
human heart. Dobrizhoffer, the Jesuit missionary, 
in his curious History of the Abipones, tells us that 
neither these nor the Guarinies, two of the principal 


native tribes of Brazil, possessed any word in the 
least corresponding to our ' thanks.' But what won- 
der, if the feeling of gratitude was entirely absent 
from their hearts, that they should not have pos- 
sessed the corresponding word in their vocabularies ? 
Nay, how should they have had it there ? And that 
in this absence lies the true explanation is plain 
from a fact which the same writer records, that al- 
though inveterate askers, they never showed the 
slightest sense of obligation or of gratitude when 
they obtained what they sought ; never saying more 
than, ' This will be useful to me/ or ' This is what I 
wanted/ Dr. Krapf, after laborious researches in 
some widely extended dialects of East Africa, has 
remarked in them the same absence of any words 
expressing the idea of gratitude. 

Nor is it only in what they have forfeited and lost, 
but also in what they have retained or invented, 
that these languages proclaim their degradation and 
debasement, and how deeply they and those that 
speak them have fallen. For indeed the strange 
wealth and the strange poverty, I know not which 
the strangest and the saddest, of the languages of 
savage tribes, rich in words which proclaim their 
shame, poor in those which should attest the work- 
ings of any nobler life among them, not seldom ab- 
solutely destitute of these last, are a mournful and 
ever-recurring surprise, even to those who were 
more or less prepared to expect nothing else. Thus 
I have read of a tribe in New Holland, which has no 
word to signify God, but has one to designate a 
process by which an unborn child may be destroyed 


in the bosom of its mother * And I have been in- 
formed, on the authority of one excellently capable 
of knowing, an English scholar long resident in Van 
Diemen's Land, thatinthe native language of that is- 
land there aret four words to express the taking of 
human life — one to express a father's killing of a son, 
another a son's killing of a father, with other varie- 
ties of murder ; and that in no one of these lies the 
slightest moral reprobation, or sense of the deep- 
lying distinction between to 'kill ' and to ' murder ' ; 

* A Wesleyan missionary, communicating with me from Fiji, assures 
me I have here understated the case. He says : « I could write down 
several words, which express as many different ways of killing an unborn 
child.' He has at the same time done me the favor to send me dread- 
ful confirmation of all which I have here asserted. It is a list of some 
Fiji words, with the hideous meanings which they bear, or facts which 
they imply. He has naturally confined himself to those in one domain 
of human wickedness — that, namely, of cruelty; leaving another do- 
main, which borders close on this, and which, he assures me, would 
yield proofs quite as terrible, altogether untouched. It is impossible to 
imagine a record more hideous of what the works of the arch-murderer 
are, or one more fitted to stir up missionary zeal in behalf of those dark 
places of the earth which are full of the habitations of cruelty. A very 
few specimens must suffice. The language of Fiji has a word for a club 
which has killed a man; for a dead body which is to be eaten; for the 
first of such bodies brought in at the beginning of a war; for the flesh on 
each side of the backbone. It has a name of honor given to those who 
have taken life; it need not have been the life of an enemy; if only they 
have shed blood— it may have been the life of a woman or a child— the 
title has been earned. It has a hideous word to express the torturing 
and insulting of an enemy, as by cutting off any part of his body— his 
nose or tongue, for instance— cooking and eating it before his face, and 
taunting him the while; the dxpaortjpidZetv of the Greeks, with the 
cannibalism added. But of this enough. 

f [This was written in 185 1. Now, in 1888, Van Diemen's Land is 
called Tasmania, and the native language of that island is a thing of 
the past.] 


while at the same time, of that language so richly 
and so fearfully provided with expressions for this 
extreme utterance of hate, he also reports that a 
word for Move' is wanting in it altogether. Yet 
with all this, ever and anon in the midst of this 
wreck and ruin, there is that in the language of the 
savage, some subtle distinction, some curious allu- 
sion to a perished civilization, now utterly unintelli- 
gible to the speaker ; or some other note which 
proclaims his language to be the remains of a dis- 
sipated inheritance, the rags and remnants of a 
robe which was a royal one once. The fragments 
of a broken sceptre are in his hand, a sceptre where- 
with once he held dominion (he, that is, in his pro- 
genitors) over large kingdoms of thought, which 
now have escaped wholly from his sway.* 

But while it is thus with him, while this is the 
downward course of all those that have chosen the 
downward path, while with every impoverishing and 
debasing of personal and national life there goes 
hand in hand a corresponding impoverishment 
and debasement of language ; so on the contrary, 
where there is advance and progress, where a divine 
idea is in any measure realizing itself in a people, 

* See on this matter Tylor, Early History of Mankind, pp. 150-190; 
and still better, the Duke of Argyll, On Primeval Man ; and on this 
same survival of the fragments of an elder civilization, Ebrard, Apolo- 
getik y vol. ii. p. 382. Among some of the Papuans the faintest rudi- 
ments of the family survive; of the tribe no trace whatever; while yet of 
these one has lately written : — * Sie haben religiose Gebrfluche und 
Uebungen, welche, mit einigen anderen Erscheinungen in ihrem Leben, 
mit ihrem jetzigen Culturzustande ganz unvereinbar erscheinen, wenn 
man darin nicht die Spuren einer fruher hohern Bildung erkennen will/ 
Sayce agrees with this. 


where they are learning more accurately to define 
and distinguish, more truly to know, where they are 
ruling as men ought to rule, over nature, and com- 
pelling her to give up her secrets to them, where 
new thoughts are rising up over the horizon of a na- 
tion's mind, new feelings are stirring at a nation's 
heart, new facts coming within the sphere of its 
knowledge, there will language be growing and ad- 
vancing too. It cannot lag behind ; for man feels 
that nothing is properly his own, that he has not 
secured any new thought, or entered upon any new 
spiritual inheritance, till he has fixed it in language, 
till he can contemplate it, not as himself, but as his 
word ; he is conscious that he must express truth, 
if he is to preserve it, and still more if he would 
propagate it among others. * Names,' as it has 
been excellently said, ' are impressions of sense, 
and as such take the strongest hold upon the 
mind, and of all other impressions can be most eas- 
ily recalled and retained in view. They therefore 
serve to give a point of attachment to all the more 
volatile objects of thought and feeling. Impressions 
that when past might be dissipated for ever, are by 
their connection with language always within reach. 
Thoughts, of themselves are perpetually slipping 
out of the field of immediate mental vision ; but the 
name abides with us, and the utterance of it restores 
them in a moment.' 

Men sometimes complain of the number of new 
theological terms which the great controversies in 
which the Church from time to time has been 
engaged, have left behind them. But this could 


not have been otherwise, unless the gains through 
those controversies made, were presently to be lost 
again; for as has lately been well said : * The suc- 
cess and enduring influence of any systematic con- 
struction of truth, be it secular or sacred, depends 
as much upon an exact terminology, as upon close 
and deep thinking itself. Indeed, unless the re- 
sults to which the human mind arrives are plainly 
stated, and firmly fixed in an exact phraseology, 
its thinking is to very little purpose in the end. 
"Terms," says Whewell, "record discoveries." 
That which was seen, it may be with crystal clear- 
ness, and in bold outline, in the consciousness of an 
individual thinker, may fail to become the property 
and possession of mankind at large, because it is 
not transferred from the individual to the general 
mind, by means of a precise phraseology and a rig- 
orous terminology. Nothing is in its own nature 
more fugacious and shifting than thought ; and 
particularly thoughts upon the mysteries of Chris- 
tianity. A conception that is plain and accurate in 
the understanding of the first man becomes obscure 
and false in that of the second, because it was not 
grasped and firmly held in the form and proportions 
with which it first came up, and then handed over 
to other minds, a fixed and scientific quantity.'* 
And on the necessity of names at once for the 
preservation and the propagation of truth it has 
been justly observed : ' Hardly any original thoughts 

* Shedd, History of Christian Doctrine , vol. i. p. 362; compare 
Guesses at Truth, 1866, p. 217; and Gerber, Sprache ais Kunst, vol. i. 
P. 145. 


on mental or social subjects ever make their way 
among mankind, or assume their proper importance 
in the minds even of their inventors, until aptly 
selected words or phrases have as it were nailed 
them down and held them fast.' * And this holds 
good alike of the false and of the true. I think we 
may observe very often the way in which contro- 
versies, after long eddying backward and forward, 
hither and thither, concentrate themselves at last 
in some single word which is felt to contain all that 
the one party would affirm and the other would 
deny. After a desultory swaying of the battle 
hither and thither ' the high places of the field,' the 
critical position, on the winning of which everything 
turns, is discovered at last. Thus the whole con- 
troversy of the Catholic Church with the Arians 
finally gathers itself up in a single word, 
'homoousion ;' that with the Nestorians in another, 
' theotokos.' One might be bold to affirm that the 
entire secret of Buddhism is found in 'Nirvana'; for 
take away the word, and it is not too much to say 
that the keystone to the whole arch is gone. So 
too when the medieval Church allowed and then 
adopted the word * transubstantiation ' (and we 
know the exact date of this), it committed itself to 
a doctrine from which henceforward it was impos- 
sible to recede. The floating error had become a 
fixed one, and exercised a far mightier influence on 
the minds of all who received it, than except for 
this it would have ever done. It is sometimes not 
a word, but a phrase, which proves thus mighty in 

* Mill, System of Logic, vol. ii. p. 291. 


operation. ' Reformation in the head and in the 
members' was the watchword, for more than a 
century before an actual Reformation came, of all 
who were conscious of the deeper needs of the 
Church. What intelligent acquaintance with Dar- 
win's speculations would the world in general have 
made, except for two or three happy and compre- 
hensive terms, as * the survival of the fittest/ * the 
struggle for existence/ * the process of natural 
selection ' ? Multitudes who else would have known 
nothing about Comte's system, know something 
about it when they know that he called it ' the pos- 
itive philosophy/ 

We have been tempted to depart a little, though 
a very little, from the subject immediately before 
us. What was just now said of the manner in which 
language enriches itself does not contradict a prior 
assertion, that man starts with language as God's 
perfect gift, which he only impairs and forfeits by 
sloth and sin, according to the same law which 
holds good in respect of each other of the gifts 
of heaven. For it was not meant, as indeed was 
then observed, that men would possess words to 
set forth feelings which were not yet stirring in 
them, combinations which they had not yet made, 
objects which they had not yet seen, relations of 
which they were not yet conscious ; but that up to 
man's needs, (those needs including not merely his 
animal wants, but all his higher spiritual cravings), 
he would find utterance freely. The great logical, 
or grammatical, framework of language, (for gram- 
mar is the logic of speech, even as logic is the gram* 


mar of reason), he would possess, he knew not how; 
and certainly not as the final result of gradual 
acquisitions, and of reflection setting these in order, 
and drawing general rules from them ; but as that 
rather which alone had made those acquisitions pos- 
sible; as that according to which he unconsciously 
worked, filled in this framework by degrees with 
these later acquisitions of thought, feeling, and ex- 
perience, as one by one they arrayed themselves in 
the garment and vesture of words. 

Here then is the explanation of the fact that lan- 
guage should be thus instructive for us, that it 
should yield us so much, when we come to analyze 
and probe it; and yield us the more, the more 
deeply and accurately we do so. It is full of in- 
struction, because it is the embodiment, the incar- 
nation, if I may so speak, of the feelings and 
thoughts and experiences of a nation, yea, often of 
many nations, and of all which through long cen- 
turies they have attained to and won. It stands 
like the Pillars of Hercules, to mark how far the 
moral and intellectual conquests of mankind have 
advanced, only not like those pillars, fixed and 
immovable, but ever itself advancing with the pro- 
gress of these. The mighty moral instincts which 
have been working in the popular mind have found 
therein their unconscious voice; and the single 
kinglier spirits that have looked deeper into the 
heart of things have oftentimes gathered up all they 
have seen into some one word, which they have 
launched upon the world, and with which they have 
enriched it for ever — making in that new word a 


new region of thought to be henceforward in some 
sort the common heritage of all. Language is the 
amber in which a thousand precious and subtle 
thoughts have been safely embedded and preserved. 
It has arrested ten thousand lightning flashes of 
genius, which unless thus fixed and arrested, might 
have been as bright, but would have also been as 
quickly passing and perishing, as the lightning 
4 Words convey the mental treasures of one period 
to the generations that follow ; and laden with this, 
their precious freight, they sail safely across gulfs 
of time in which empires have suffered shipwreck, 
and the languages of common life have sunk into 
oblivion.' And for all these reasons far more and 
mightier in every way is a language than any one 
of the works which may have been composed in it. 
For that work, great as it may be, at best embodies 
what was in the heart and mind of a single man, 
but this of a nation. The Iliad is great, yet not so 
great in strength or power or beauty as the Greek 
language.* Paradise Lost is a noble possession for 
a people to have inherited, but the English tongue 
is a nobler heritage yet.t 
And imperfectly as we may apprehend all this, 

* On the Greek language and its merits, as compared with the 
other Indo-European languages, see Curtius, History of Greece^ English 
translation, vol. i. pp. 18-28. 

f Gerber {Sprache ah Kitnst, vol. i. p. 274): Es ist ein bedeutender 
Fortschritt in der Erkenntniss des Menschen dass man jetzt Sprachen 
lerat nicht bloss, um sich den Gedankeninhalt, den sie offenbaren, 
anzueignen, sondern zugleich um sieselbst als herrliche, architektonische 
Geisteswerke kennenzu lernen, und sich an ihrer KunstschOnheit zn 


there is an obscure sense, or instinct I might call it, 
in every one of us, of this truth. We all, whether 
we have given a distinct account of the matter to 
ourselves or not, believe that words which we use 
are not arbitrary and capricious signs, affixed at 
random to the things which they designate, for 
which any other might have been substituted as 
well, but that they stand in a real relation to these. 
And this sense of the significance of names, that 
they are, or ought to be,— that in a world of abso- 
lute truth they ever would be, — the expression of 
the innermost character and qualities of the things 
or persons that bear them, speaks out in various 
ways. It is reported of Boiardo, author of a poem 
without which we should probably have never seen 
the Orlando Furioso of Ariosto, that he was out 
hunting, when the name Rodomonte presented it* 
self to him as exactly fitting a foremost person of the 
epic he was composing ; and that instantly return- 
ing home, he caused all the joy-bells of the village 
to be rung, to celebrate the happy invention. This 
story may remind us of another which is told of the 
greatest French novelist of modern times. A friend 
of Balzac's, who has written some Recollections of 
him, tells us that he would sometimes wander for 
days through the streets of Paris, studying the 
names over the shops, as being sure that there was 
a name more appropriate than any other to some 
character which he had conceived, and hoping to 
light on it there. 

You must all have remarked the amusement and 
interest which children find in any notable agree- 


ment between a name and the person who owns 
that name, as, for instance, if Mr. Long is tall — or, 
which naturally takes a still stronger hold upon 
them, in any manifest contradiction between the 
name and the name-bearer ; if Mr. Strongitharm is 
a weakling, or Mr. Black an albino : the former 
striking from a sense of fitness, the latter from one 
of incongruity. Nor is this a mere childish enter- 
tainment. It continues with us through life ; and 
that its roots lie deep is attested by the earnest use 
which is often made, and that at the most earnest 
moments of men's lives, of such agreements or disa- 
greements as these. Such use is not unfrequent in 
Scripture, though it is seldom possible to reproduce 
it in English, as for instance in the comment of Ab- 
igail on her husband Nabal's name : ' As his name 
is, so is he ; Nabal is his name, and folly is with 
him' (i Sam. xxv. 25). And again, 'Call me not 
Naomi,' exclaims the desolate widow — ' call me not 
Naomi [or pleasantness] ; call me Marah [or bitter- 
ness], for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with 
me.' She cannot endure that the name she bears 
should so strangely contradict the thing she is. 
Shakespeare, in like manner, reveals his own pro- 
found knowledge of the human heart, when he 
makes old John of Gaunt, worn with long sickness, 
and now ready to depart, play with his name, and 
dwell upon the consent between it and his condi- 
tion ; so that when his royal nephew asks him, 
1 How is it with aged Gaunt ? ' he answers, 


* Oh, how that name befits my composition, 
Old Gaunt indeed, and gaunt in being old — 
Gaunt am I for the grave, gaunt as the grave — ' * 

with much more in the same fashion ; while it is into 
the mouth of the slight and frivolous king that 
Shakespeare puts the exclamation of wonder, 

« Can sick men play so nicely with their names ? ' f 

Mark too how, if one is engaged in a controversy 
or quarrel, and his name imports something good, 
his adversary will lay hold of the name, will seek to 
bring out a real contradiction between the name 
and the bearer of the name, so that he shall appear 
as one presenting himself under false colors, affect- 
ing a merit which he does not really possess. Ex- 
amples of this abound. There was one Vigilantius 
in the early Church ; — his name might be inter- 
preted ' The Watchful.' He was at issue with St. 
Jerome about certain vigils ; these he thought per- 
ilous to Christian morality, while Jerome was a very 
eager promoter of them ; who instantly gave a turn 
to his name, and proclaimed that he, the enemy of 

* Ajax, or AtaS, in the play of Sophocles, which bears his name, 
does the same with the aial which lies in that name (422, 423); just as 
in the Baccha of Euripides, not Pentheus himself; but others for him, 
indicate the prophecy of a mighty itkvQoS or grief; which is shut up in 
his name (367). A tragic writer, less known than Euripides, does the 
same : UevBevS, k6ou&vt)$ dvju<PopdS kitoivvjioS. Etocles, in 
the Phanissa of Euripides makes a play of the same kind on the name 
of Polynices. 

f ' Hus ' is Bohemian for * goose ' [the two words being, in fact, 
cognate forms] ; and here we have the explanation of the prophetic 
utterance of Hus, namely, that in place of one goose, tame and weak 
of wing, God would send falcons and eagles before long. 


these watches, the partisan of slumber and sloth, 
should have been not Vigilantius or The Watcher, 
but * Dormitantius ' or The Sleeper rather. Felix, 
Bishop of Urgel, a chief champion in the eighth cen- 
tury of the Adoptianist heresy, is constantly ' In- 
felix ' in the writings of his adversary Alcuin. The 
Spanish peasantry during the Peninsular War would 
not hear of Bonaparte, but changed the name to 
1 Malaparte,' as designating far better the perfidious 
kidnapper of their king and enemy of their independ- 
ence. It will be seen then that iEschylus is most 
true to nature, when in his Prometheus Bound he 
makes Strength tauntingly to remind Prometheus, 
or The Prudent, how ill his name and the lot which 
he has made for himself agreed, bound as he is with 
adamantine chains to his rock, and abound, as it 
might seem, for ever. When Napoleon said of Count 
Lobau, whose proper name was Mouton, ' Mon mou- 
ton c'est un lion/ it was the same instinct at work, 
though working from an opposite point. It made 
itself felt no less in the bitter irony which gave to 
the second of the Ptolemies, the brother-murdering 
king, the title of Philadelphus. 

But more frequent still is this hostile use of names, 
this attempt to place them and their owners in the 
most intimate connection, to make, so to speak, the 
man answerable for his name, where the name does 
not thus need to be reversed ; but may be made as 
it now is, or with very slightest change, to contain a 
confession of the ignorance, worthlessness, or futil- 
ity of the bearer. If it implies, or can be made to 
imply, anything bad, it is instantly laid hold of a* 


expressing the very truth about him. You know 
the story of Helen of Greece, whom in two of his 
1 mighty lines ' Marlowe's Faust so magnificently 
apostrophizes : 

« Is this the face that launched a thousand ships, 
And burned the topless towers of Ilium ? ' 

It is no frigid conceit of the Greek poet, when one 
passionately denouncing the ruin which she wrought, 
finds that ruin couched and foreannounced in her 
name ; * as in English it might be, and has been, 
reproduced — 

4 Hell in her name and heaven in her looks. 9 

Or take other illustrations. Pope Hildebrand in 
one of our Homilies is styled ' Brand of Hell/ as 
setting the world in a blaze ; as ' Hollenbrand ' he 
appears constantly in German. Tott and Teuffel 
were two officers of high rank in the army which 
Gustavus Adolphus brought with him into Germany. 
You may imagine how soon those of the other side 
declared that he had brought ' death ' and ' hell ' in 
his train. There were two not inconsiderable per- 
sons in the time of our Civil Wars, Vane (not the 
'young Vane* of Milton's and Wordsworth's son- 
nets), and Sterry ; and one of these, Sterry, was 
chaplain to the other. Baxter, having occasion to 
mention them in his profoundly instructive Narra- 
tive of his Life and Times, and liking neither, cannot 
forbear to observe, that ' vanity and sterility were 

* 'EXivcti, [=k\4vcco<>\ eXardpot, kXiitroXtS, jEschylus Ago- 
memnm, 636. 


never more fitly joined together ;' and speaks 
elsewhere of 'the vanity of Vane, and the sterility 
of Sterry.' This last, let me observe, is an emi- 
nently unjust charge, as Baxter himself in a later 
volume* has very handsomely acknowledged^ 

* Catholic Theology, pt. 3, p. 107. 

f A few more examples, in a note, of this contumely of names. 
Antiochus Epiphanes, or * the Illustrious,' is for the Jews, whom he so 
madly attempted to hellenize, Antiochus Epimanes, or ' the Insane.' 
Cicero, denouncing Verres, the infamous praetor of Sicily, is too skilful 
a master of the passions to allow the name of the arch-criminal to 
escape unused. He was indeed Verres, for he swept the province; he 
was a sweep-net for it (everriculum in provincia); and then presently, 
giving altogether another turn to his name, Others, he says, might be 
partial to * jus verrinum ' (which might mean either Verrine law or 
boar-sauce), but not he. Tiberius Claudius Nero, charged with being a 
drunkard, becomes in the popular language * Biberius Caldius Mero. 
The controversies of the Church with heretics yield only too abundant a 
supply, and that upon both sides, of examples of this kind. The 
* royal-hearted ' Athanasius is * Satanasius ' for the Arians; and some 
of St. Cyprian's adversaries did not shrink from so foul a perversion of 
his name as to call him Koitpiaroi or * the Dungy.' But then how 
often is Pelagius declared by the Church Fathers to be a pelagus, a very 
ocean of wickedness. It was in vain that the Manichaeans changed 
their master's name from Manes to Manichseus, that so it might not so 
nearly resemble the word signifying madness in the Greek (devitantes 
nomen insanise, Augustine, De Hcer. 46); it did not thereby escape. 
The Waldenses, or Wallenses, were declared by Roman controver- 
sialists to be justly so called, as dwelling ' in valle densa,' in the thick 
valley of darkness and ignorance. Cardinal Clesel was active in setting 
fcrward the Roman Catholic reaction in Bohemia with which the 
dismal tragedy of the Thirty Years' War began. It was a farfetched 
»nd not very happy piece of revenge, when they of the other side took 
pleasure in spelling his name * CL esel,' as much as to say, He of the 
150 ass-power, Berengar of Tours calls a Pope who had taken sides 
against him not pontifix, but * pompifex.' Metrophanes, Patriarch of 
Constantinople, being counted to have betrayed the interest of the 
Greek Church, his spiritual mother, at the council of Florence, saw his 


Where, on the other hand, it is desired to do a 
man honor, how gladly, in like manner, is his 
name seized on, if it in any way bears an honor- 
able significance, or is capable of an honorable 
interpretation — men finding in that name a pres- 
age and prophecy of that which was actually in 
its bearer. A multitude of examples, many of them 
very beautiful, might be brought together in this 
kind. How often, for instance, and with what effect, 
the name of Stephen, the proto-martyr, that name 
signifying in Greek 'the Crown, was taken as a 
prophetic intimation of the martyr-crown, which 
it should be given to him, the first in that noble 
army, to wear.* Irenaeus means in Greek 'the 

name changed by popular nate into 'Metrophonos,' or the * Matricide.' 
In the same way of more than one Pope Urbanns it was declared that he 
would have been better named 'Turbanus ' (quasi turbans Ecclesiam). 
Mahomet appears as * Bafomet,' influenced perhaps by * bafa,' a lie, in 
Provencal. Shechem, a chief city of the heretical Samaritans, becomes 
« Sychar,' or city of lies (See John iv. 5), so at least some will have it, 
on the tips of the hostile Jews; while Toulouse, a very seedplot of 
heresies, Albigensian and other, in the Middle Ages, is declared by 
writers of those times to have prophesied no less by its name (Tolosa 
t= tota dolosa). In the same way adversaries of Wiclif traced in his 
name an abridgement of * wicked- belief.' Metternich was * Mitter- 
nacht,' or Midnight, for the political reformers of Germany in the last 
generation. It would be curious to know how often the Sorbonne 
has been likened to a ' Serbonian ' bog; some * privilegium ' declared 
to be not such indeed, but a ' pravilegium ' rather. Baxter complains 
that the Independents called presbyters 4 pries tbiters,' Presbyterian 
ministers not ' divines' but 'dry- vines,' and their Assembly men 
• Dissembly men.' 
* Thus in a sublime Latin hymn by Adam of St. Victor : 
Nomen habes Coronati; 
Te tormenta decet pati 4 

Pro corond gloria. . ■ * 


Peaceable ' ; and early Church writers love to re- 
mark how fitly the illustrious Bishop of Lyons bore 
this name, setting forward as he so earnestly did 
the peace of the Church, resolved as he was, so far 
as in him lay, to preserve the unity of the Spirit in 
the bond of peace.* The Dominicans were well 
pleased when their name was resolved into ' Dom- 
ini canes ' — the Lord's watch-dogs; who as such al- 
lowed no heresy to appear without at once giv- 
ing the alarm, and seeking to chase it away. 
When Ben Jonson praises Shakespeare's ' well-filed 
lines ' — 

In each of which he seems to shake a lance % 
As brandished in the eyes of ignorance ' — 

he is manifestly playing with his name. Fuller, 
too, our own Church historian, who played so often 

Elsewhere the same illustrious hymnologist plays in like manner on the 
name of St Vincentius: 

Qui vincentis habet nomen 
Ex re probat dignum omen 
Sui fore nominis; 
Vincens terra, vineens man 
Quidquid potest irrogari 
Poenae vel formidinis. 

In the Bull for the canonization of Sta. Clara, the canonizing Pope does 
not disdain a similar play upon her name: Clara Claris praeclara 
mentis, magnae in caelo claritate gloriae, ac in terra miraculorum 
sublimium, clare claret. On these * prophetic ' names in the heathen 
world see Pott, Wurzel- WOrterbuch> vol. ii. part 2, p. 522. 

* We cannot adduce St. Columba as another example in the same 
kind, seeing that this name was not his birthright, but one given to him 
by his scholars for the dove-like gentleness of his character. So indeed 
we are told; though it must be owned that some of the traits recorded 
of him in The Monks of the West are not columbine at all. 


upon the names of others, has a play made upon his 
own in some commendatory verses prefixed to one 
of his books : 

* Thy style is clear and white ; thy very name 
Speaks pureness, and adds lustre to the frame.' 

He plays himself upon it in an epigram which takes 
the form of a prayer : 

' My soul is stained with a dusky color : 
Let thy Son be the soap; I'll be the fuller.' 

John Careless, whose letters are among the most 
beautiful in Foxe's Book of Martyr s y writing to Phil- 
pot, exclaims, l Oh good master Philpot, which art 
a principal pot indeed, filled with much precious 
liquor,— oh pot most happy ! of the High Potter 
ordained to honour.' 

Herein, in this faith that men's names were true 
and would come true, in this, and not in any alto- 
gether unreasoning superstition, lay the root of the 
carefulness of the Romans that in the enlisting of 
soldiers names of good omen, such as Valerius, Sal- 
vius, Secondus, should be the first called. Scipio 
Africanus, reproaching his soldiers after a mutiny, 
finds an aggravation of their crime in the fact that 
one with so ill-omened a name as Atrius Umber 
should have seduced them, and persuaded them to 
take him for their leader. So strong is the convic- 
tion of men that names are powers. Nay, it must 
have been sometimes thought that the good name 
might so react on the evil nature that it should 
not remain evil altogether, but might be induced, 


in part at least, to conform itself to the des- 
ignation which it bore. Here we have an ex- 
planation of the title Eumenides, or the Well-mind- 
ed, given to the Furies ; of Euxine, or the kind to 
strangers, to the inhospitable Black Sea, ' stepmo- 
ther of ships,' as the Greek poet called it ; the ex- 
planation too of other similar transformations, of 
the Greek Egesta transformed by the Romans into 
1 Segesta/ that it might not suggest ' egestas' or pen- 
ury ;* of Epidamnus, which, in like manner seem- 
ing too suggestive of ' damnum/ or loss, was changed 
into ' Dyrrachium ' ; of Maleventum, which became 
1 Beneventum ' ; of Cape Tormentoso, or Stormy 
Cape, changed into ' Cape of Good Hope ' ; of the 
fairies being always respectfully spoken of as ' the 
good people' in Ireland, even while they are ac- 
credited with any amount of mischief ; of the dead 
spoken of alike in Greek and in Latin simply as ' the 
majority ' ; of the dying, in Greek liturgies remem- 
bered as ' those about to set forward upon a jour- 
ney ' t : of the slain in battle designated in German 
as ' those who remain/ that is, on the field of bat- 
tle; of svXoyia, or 'the blessing/ as a name giv- 
en in modern Greek to the smallpox ! We may 
compare as an example of this same euphemism the 
famous 'Vixerunt' with which Cicero announced 
that the conspirators against the Roman State had 
paid the full penalty of their treason. 

* [But the form Segesta is probably older than Egesta, the Romans 
here, as in other cases, retaining the original initial 8, which in Greek is 
represented generally by the rough, sometimes by the smooth breathing.] 

t of tZodevorreS. 


Let me observe, before leaving this subject, that 
not in one passage only, but in passages innumer- 
able, Scripture sets its seal to this significance of 
names, to the fact that the seeking and the finding 
of this significance is not a mere play upon the sur- 
face of things : it everywhere recognizes the inner 
band, which ought to connect, and in a world of truth 
would connect, together the name and the person 
or thing bearing the name. Scripture sets its seal 
to this by the weight and solemnity which it every- 
where attaches to the imposing of names ; this in 
many instances not being left to hazard, but assumed 
by God as his own peculiar care. ' Thou shalt call 
his name Jesus ' (Matt. i. 21 ; Luke i. 31) is of course 
the most illustrious instance of all ; but there is a 
multitude of other cases in point ; names given by 
God, as that of John to the Baptist ; or changed by 
Him, as Abram's to Abraham (Gen. xvii. 3), Sarai's 
to Sarah, Hoshea's to Joshua; or new names added by 
Him to the old, when by some mighty act of faith 
the man had been lifted out of his old life into a 
new ; as Israel added to Jacob, and Peter to Simon, 
and Boanerges or Sons of Thunder to the two sons 
of Zebedee (Mark iii. 17). The same feeling is at 
work elsewhere. A Pope on his election always 
takes a new name. Or when it is intended to make, 
for good or for ill, an entire breach with the past, 
this is one of the means by which it is sought to 
effect as much(2 Chr. xxxvi. 4 ; Dan. i. 7). How 
far this custom reaches, how deep the roots which 
it casts, is exemplified well in the fact that the 
West Indian buccaneer makes a like change of name 


on entering that society of blood. It is in both 
cases a sort of token that old things have passed 
away, that all have become new to him. 

But we must draw to a close. Enough has been 
said to attest and to justify the widespread faith of 
men that names are significant, and that things and 
persons correspond, or ought to correspond, to them. 
You will not, then, find it a laborious task to per- 
suade your pupils to admit as much. They are pre- 
pared to accept, they will be prompt to believe it. 
And great indeed will be our gains, their gains and 
ours, — for teacher and taught will for the most part 
enrich themselves together, — if, having these treas- 
ures of wisdom and knowledge lying round about 
us, so far more precious than mines of Californian 
gold, we determine that we will make what portion 
of them we can our own, that we will ask the 
words which we use to give an account of them- 
selves, to say whence they are, and whither they 
tend. Then shall we often rub off the dust and rust 
from what seemed to us but a common token, which 
as such we had taken and given a thousand times ; 
but which now we shall perceive to be a precious 
coin, bearing the * image and superscription ' of the 
great King : then shall we often stand in surprise 
and in something of shame, while we behold the 
great spiritual realities which underlie our common 
speech, the marvellous truths which we have been wit- 
nesslng/or in our own words, but, it may be, witness- 
ing against in our lives. And as you will not find, 
for so I venture to promise, that this study of words 
will be a dull one when you undertake it yourselves f 


as little need you fear that it will prove dull and 
unattractive, when you seek to make your own gains 
herein the gains also of those who may be hereafter 
committed to your charge. Only try your pupils, 
and mark the kindling of the eye, the lighting up 
of the countenance, the revival of the flagging atten- 
tion, with which the humblest lecture upon words, 
and on the words especially which they are daily 
using, which are familiar to them in their play or at 
their church, will be welcomed by them. There is 
a sense of reality about children which makes them 
rejoice to discover that there is also a reality about 
words, that they are not merely arbitrary signs, but 
living powers ; that, to reverse the saying of one of 
England's ' false prophets/ they may be the fool's 
counters, but are the wise man's money ; not, like 
the sands of the sea, innumerable disconnected 
atoms, but growing out of roots, clustering in fam- 
ilies, connecting and intertwining themselves with 
all that men have been doing and thinking and feel- 
ing from the beginning of the world till now. 

And it is of course our English tongue, out of 
which mainly we should seek to draw some of the 
hid treasures which it contains, from which we 
should endeavor to remove the veil which custom 
and familiarity have thrown over it. We cannot 
employ ourselves better. There is nothing that will 
more help than will this to form an English heart 
in ourselves and in others. We could scarcely have 
a single lesson on the growth of our English tongue, 
we could scarcely follow up one of its significant 
words, without having unawares a lesson in English 


history as well, without not merely falling on some 
curious fact illustrative of our national life, but 
learning also how the great heart which is beating 
at the centre of that life was gradually shaped and 
moulded. We should thus grow too in our sense of 
connection with the past, of gratitude and reverence 
to it ; we should rate more highly and thus more 
truly all which it has bequeathed to us, all that it 
has made ready to our hands. It was not a small 
matter for the children of Israel, when they came 
into Canaan, to enter upon wells which they 
digged not, and vineyards which they had not 
planted, and houses which they had not built ; 
but how much vaster a boon, how much more 
glorious a prerogative, for any one generation to 
enter upon the inheritance of a language which 
other generations by their truth and toil have made 
already a receptacle of choicest treasures, a store- 
house of so much unconscious wisdom, a fit organ 
for expressing the subtlest distinctions, the tender- 
est sentiments, the largest thoughts, and the loftiest 
imaginations, which the heart of man has at any 
time conceived. And that those who have preceded 
us have gone far to accomplish this for us, I shall 
rejoice if I am able in any degree to make you feel 
in the lectures which will follow the present. 





I. Wisdom preserved and transmitted. 
i. By books. 

2. By oral discourse. 

3. By words. 

II. Words repay study. 

III. Results of word-study. 

IV. " Ignorance the mother of admiration." 

1. Falsity. 

2. Implication. 

3. Refutation. 

V. Ignorance prevents admiration. 

1. In the region of nature. 

2. In the region of art. 

3. In the sphere of language. 

VI. The traveller and student compared. 

VII. Why we miss teaching and instruction. 

VIII. Attractiveness of the study of words. 

1. Testimony of a Greek lexicographer. 

2. Inference in regard to our " mother- tongue." 

3. Quoted testimony of a recent writer. 




I. Language characterized as " fossil poetry.* 
II. Explanation of the phrase. 

1. Stone contains the plant or animal 

2. Words hold thoughts or images. 

III. Aptness of the phrase. 

IV. The phrase extended. 

i. Language is fossil poetry. 

2. " " ethics. 

3. " " history. 
V. Limitation of poetry. 

1. Not confined to customs. 

2. " " traditions. 

3. " " beliefs. 

VI. Single words concentrated poems. 

1. This poetry founded on analogies. 

2. Its images may grow trite or ordinary. 
VII. The word-coiner is a poet. 

• Examples — 

1. He who spake first of a " dilapidated" fortune. 

2. He who gave the meaning of " sincere " to the 

Greek word " efcurfpu^." 

3. He who called mountains " sierras," or " saws." 


I. Words are witnesses for great moral truths. 
Examples — 

1. Bishop Butler's use of the word " pastime." 

2. Similar idea in the word " diversion." 

3. Other words. 

(a.) "Transport." 
(b.) "Rapture." 
\c.) " Ravishment." 
(</.) "Ecstasy." 


II. Perversion of the moral sense in words. 
Example — Papal misuse of words. 
i. A " religious person," a monk or nun. 

2. A " religious house," one ordered by men. 

3. " Religion," an order of monkery. 

4. " Religious " applied to self-chosen services. 



I. Words record social and national revolutions. 
Example L— "Frank." 

1. Applied to German tribes. 

2. Signified " free." 

3. Became a national name. 

4. Involved a moral distinction. 

5. Gave birth to 

(a.) "Franchise." 
(fi.) " Enfranchisement." 
Example 11.—" Slave." 




1. Human. 

2. Divine. 

Statement of Human theory. 

1. Makes language an invention. 

2. Develops it from imperfect beginnings. 

3. Brings it little by little to perfection. 
Objections to Human theory. 

1. Makes language an accident. 

2. Implies that some are without it. 

3. Contradicted by Genesis. 

4. Inconsistent with experience. 


The Urang- Utang theory. 

i . Makes the savage a living seed. 

2. Develops the civilized man from it 
The true theory. 

i. Makes the savage a withered leaf. 

2. Or a man prematurely aged. 


I. True origin of language. 
Divine theory. 

1. God gave man language as he gave reason. 

2. It was given because he is a social being. 


i. Not with a full-formed vocabulary. 

2. Not even with names. 

3. But, with the power of naming. 

III. Testimony of Genesis. 

1. That Adam named at God's suggestion. 

2. That speech is at once divine and human. 

IV. What may be conceded— partial acquisition. 
V. Statement of the actual case. 

1. Man had the power to name, 
a. Man could express relations. 

3. These powers could not remain dormant. 

4. They were developed by the outer world. 

5. Man makes his own language. 

(a.) Like the bee its cell. 
(b.) Like the bird its nest. 


1. Like a plant springing from a root. 

2. Like the building of a house. 



I. What the language of the savage proves, 
i. That it is the remnant of a better past. 


2. That degradation is stamped upon it. 

3. That words have perished with the loss of spiritual 


4. Also with the habits of civilization. 
II. Testimony of Moffat. 

Example — ' l Moritno" 

1. Caffre word for " God." 

2. Vanishing from the language. 

3. Survives as the name of a ghost. 



i. Testimony of Dobrizhoffer. 

2. Testimony of Dr. Krapf. 

3. Testimony cf Wesleyan Missionary. 

IV. Degradation in what the savage retains and 


1. New Holland tribe. 

(a.) No word for " God." 
(b.) Word for "abortion." 

2. Van Dicmen's Land. 

(a.) Four words for taking life. 
(£.) Killing and murder the same. 
(c.) The word " love " is lost. 
V. Remnants of royalty in savage language. 



I. Language a record of personal or national 
i. It records impoverishment and debasement. 
2. It records advance and progress. 
II. The functions of names. 

1. They secure new thoughts. 

2. Attach volatile objects of thought and feeling. 

3. Assist in the propagation of truth. 



III. Advantages of exact terminology. 

i. Testimony of Whewell. 
2. Controversies concentrated in single words* 
Examples — 

(a.) " Homoousion." 

(b.) " Theotokos." 

(c.) "Nirvana." 

(d.) " Transubstantiation." 

(e.) "Reformation." 

(/.) Darwin's words. 

Of.) Comte's " Positive Philosophy." 

IV. Man starts with language as God's gift. 

i. This gift is impaired by sin. 
2. It does not provide for 

(a.) Feelings not experienced. 

(b.) Combinations not made. 

(c.) Relations not discovered. 
V. The grammatical framework of language. 

i. Not the result of acquisition, but necessary for it. 
2. Method by which man unconsciously works. 



I. Why language is full of instruction. 

i. Because it is the incarnation of thought. 

2. It marks the moral and intellectual conquests of, 


3. It makes new thoughts the heritage of all. 

4. It arrests and preserves the flashes of genius. 

5. It is the ark which saves thought from destruction. 
II. Language is greater than literature. 

1. Literature embodies the minds of single men. 

2. Language embodies the mind of a nation. 

Examples — 
(a.) Greek language greater than the Iliad, 
(b.) English language greater than Paradise 


III. Our relations to language. 

1. We apprehend its truth. 

2. We believe that words are not arbitrary signs. 

3. Anecdotes of Boiardo and Balzac. 

4. Children are amused by agreements and contra* 

(jr.) Fitness, if Mr. Strongitharm is a weakling* 
(&.) Incongruity, if Mr. Black is an albino. 

5. Older people show the same interest. 

(a.) « Nabal." 

(b.) " Naomi." 

(c.) Shakespeare's " John of Gaunt." 

(</.) Ajax. 

(e.) Pentheus. 



I. Hostile use of names. 

1. Contradictions between names and their bearers* 

(a.) " Dormitantius." 

(J.) "Infelix. M 

\c.) "Malaparte." 

(</.) •• Prometheus." 

(*.) "Mouton." 

(/.) "Philadelphia." 
3. Hostile use of names with little change 

(a.) "Helen of Greece." 

(*.) "PopeHildebrand." 

(c.) "Vane." 

\a.) u Stcrvy" 

II. Contumely of names. 

1. " Antiochus Epimanes." 

2. " Verres." 

3. " Biberius Caldius Mer*» 
4* " Satanasius." 

5. "St. Cyprian." 


6. " Manichaeus." 

7. "Pelagus." 

8. " Waldenses." 

9. "CLesel." 

10. "Pompifex." 

11. " Metrophonos." 

12. "Bafomet." 

13. "Turbanus." 

14. "Sychar." 

15. "Tolosa." 

16. "WichX" 

17. "Sorbonne." 

18. " Pravilegium." 

19. " Priestbiters* 

20. " Dry- vines." 

si. " Dissembly men.* 



I. Prophecy in names. 

1. u Stephen." 

2. " Sta. Clara." 

3. " Irenaeus." 

4. " S. Columba." 

5. " The Dominican** 

6. " Shakespeare." 

7. "Fuller." 

8. "Philpot." 

II. Significance in names 

1. Roman names — " Valerius," " Salvias," etc, 

2. " Eumenides." 

3. "Euxine." 

4. "Segesta." 

5. " Dyrrachium." 

6. " Beneventum." 

7. " Cape of Good Hope." 


8. "The greater number." 

9. " Those who remain." 

10. •• Vixerunt." 

11. irXoyia, " The blessing.* 

12. Scripture names. 

(a.) "Jesus." 
(b.) "John." 
(c.) "Abraham," etc. 



I. Widespread faith in the significance of words. 
II. Gains of teacher and taught in the study of 


III. Words, like coins, bear the image of the great 


IV. Great spiritual realities underlie words. 
V. Word-study not dull or unattractive. 

VI. Pupil's interest in the study of words. 

VII. Pleasure of children in the reality of words. 
VIII. Words are not disconnected atoms. 

1. They grow out of roots. 

2. They cluster in families. 

3. Are connected with action, feeling, thought 
IX. Study of the English tongue. 

1. Forms in us an English heart. 

2. Teaches us lessons in English history. 

3. Connects us properly with the past. 

4. Helps us to estimate what it has done for us. 
X. Our inheritance in language. 

1. Israelites inherited 

(a.) Wells. 
(b.) Vineyards. 
(c.) Houses. 

2. We inherit a ready-made language. 



What do the majority of people acknowledge in reference to 

What different view is urged in these lectures ? 

What classes of words repay study ? 

With what is the discovery of the fact that words are living 
powers compared ? 

What proverb is often quoted ? 

How is it characterized, and what does it imply ? 

To what extent does ignorance prevent admiration ? 

In what two regions is this so ? 

Where is it particularly true ? 

How are the careless student and traveller compared ? 

Why does each miss the teaching which lies about his path ? 

Give the passage quoted in this connection ? 

What is said about the study upon which we are entering ? 

What testimony does the author of a Greek lexicon give ? 

What does he declare to be a labor of love ? 

What is the inference in regard to our mother tongue ? 

How has a great writer borne witness to the pleasure and 
profit of word-study ? 

How has Emerson characterized language ? 

What is the meaning of the phrase, " fossil poetry w ? 

What is the fault of the phrase ? 

How may it be varied ? 

What do words often embody ? 

Where are we to look for poetry ? 

What does the examination of single words reveal ? 

What may have been the history of the image which the 
word contains ? 


Who is a poet, in the true sense of the word ? 

How is this illustrated in the expression, " a ' dilapidated 9 
fortune " ? 

How in the Greek word meaning " sincere ? " 

How in the word " sierras " ? 

Give the derivation and composition of " dilapidated/ 
" sincere," " truthful," " transparent," " sierras," " saws." 

What is the Greek word referred to above ? 

What witness do words contain for moral truth ? 

What testimony does Bishop Butler compel the word " pas- 
time " to give ? 

What might he have added in reference to the word " diver- 

What two inferences are drawn from these two words ? 

Name four other words of similar import. 

Give the derivation and composition of " pastime," " diver- 
sion," " transport," " rapture," " ravishment," and " ecstasy." 

What signal example is given of the perversion of moral 
truth in words ? 

How was the expression, " religious person," used during the 
Middle Ages in Europe ? 

How the phrase " religious house " ? 

What did the word " religion " mean ? 

What does the misuse of this word show? 

How was the term " religious " applied ? 

What two views are held by philologists in reference to the 
word " religion " ? 

What is the probable derivation of the word ? 

How does the word "frank" prove that language is fossil 
history ? 

Who were the Franks ? 

What were their relations to the Gauls and Romans ? 

Give the different stages in the history of the word. 

What is said about the use of the words " frank," "fran- 
chise," and " enfranchisement " ? 

Give the history of the word " slave." 

How is the origin of language to be discussed ? 

How many theories are there ? 


How does the first of these regard language ? 

How does it suppose man to have invented language ? 

What is the objection to this theory ? 

If language were an accident of human nature, what would 
we encounter ? 

What do facts prove ? 

What more decisive objection to this theory is presented ? 

What is the " urang-utang" theory ? 

Instead of a living seed, what might the savage be more 
justly considered ? What instead of the child with the latent 
capacities of manhood ? 

What is the truer answer to the inquiry how language arose ? 

What must this statement not be taken to affirm ? 

How did man begin his career in the world ? 

What is the testimony of the first three chapters of Genesis ? 

What intimation have we here of the origin of speech ? 

What is conceded to those who hold the theory of progres- 
sive acquisition ? 

How should we conceive the actual case most truly ? 

How does man make his language ? 

How did this latent power first evolve itself ? 

How may we help ourselves to realize the process ? 

How is it likened to the rearing of a house ? 

If the savage were the primitive man, what would we find ? 

What does the inspection of their language prove ? 

What is stamped on their language ? 

What is the result of letting go the truth, or separation from 
civilization ? 

What is lost with the habits of civilization ? 

What is the testimony of Moffat ? 

How did the Bechuanas formerly employ the word 
" Morimo " ? 

What did Moffat find in the case of this word ? 

How does the word survive ? 

What is the effect of the degradation of language ? 

To what extent are ideas intelligible ? 

What are the relations of language and thought ? 

What is the repeated complaint of the missionary ? 


What does Dobrizhoffer tell us ? 

Why is this not to be wondered at ? 

What explanation is given of the absence of the word 
" thanks ? " 

What does Dr. Krapf testify ? 

How else does language proclaim its degradation ? 

What is true of a tribe in New Holland ? 

What does a Wesleyan missionary testify ? 

What is the testimony of an English scholar resident in Van 
Diemen's Land ? 

What proclaims the language of the savage to be a remnant 
of something better ? 

What does he still possess ? 

What is the law in reference to the impoverishment and de- 
basement of language ? 

What in reference to advance and progress ? 

Why cannot language lag behind ? 

How are names defined and what are their functions ? 

What complaint is made in reference to theological terms ? 

How are they defended ? 

What is said about the importance of exact terminology ? 

What is Whewell's testimony ? Expand the idea. 

What is the nature of thought, and how is it saved from 
obscurity ? 

What is said about the necessity of names for the spread of 
truth ? 

How are controversies concentrated ? 

How is this illustrated by the words " homoousion," " theo- 
tokos," "Nirvana"? 

What is said of the word " transubstantiation ? " 

What phrases illustrate the same point ? 

Is any prior assertion contradicted by what is said about the 
enrichment of language ? 

What kind of words do men not possess ? 

How would man possess the grammatical framework of lan- 

What fact is here explained ? 

Why is language full of instruction ? 


What does it make, and how ? 

Of what is language the unconscious voice ? 

Of what is a single word often the embodiment ? 

With what is language compared ? 

Of what are words the vehicles ? 

Why is language greater than its literature ? 

Illustrate this. 

How do we apprehend what has been thus far stated ? 

What do we all believe in reference to the words we use ? 

What is said of the sense of the significance of names ? 

Give instances of this. 

How are children interested in names ? Illustrate. 

Is this confined to children ? 

What proves that its roots lie deep ? 

Give examples of such use in Scripture. 

What illustration is furnished by Shakespeare ? By Sopho- 
cles ? By Euripides ? 

How are names used in controversy ? 

Give examples. 

How was the name " Malaparte" applied ? 

What is said of the author of " Prometheus Bound" ? What 
of Napoleon ? 

To whom was the title " Philadelphus " applied? 

What use is made of names by slight change ? Illustrate in 
" Helen of Greece." 

Give other examples of names changed to worse. 

Give examples of contumely of names. 

What honorable use is made of names ? 

Give examples of prophecy in names. 

How does Ben Jonson refer to Shakespeare's name ? 

How does Fuller use his own name ? 

What use is made of Philpot's name ? 

What care was exercised by the Romans in reference to 
names ? 

How do men regard names ? 

What names are explained by this view ? 

What is said of Scripture names ? 

Give examples of significant Scripture names. 



What has been proved in the foregoing ? How do pupils 
regard such facts ? 

Upon what does the gain of teacher and pupil depend ? 

How are words like old coins ? 

What will be the result of their examination ? 

What is promised in reference to the study of words ? 

What experiment is suggested ? 

How are words described ? 

What language should be the subject of our investigations ? 

What would we learn at the same time ? 

What would result from such study ? 

Why is our language a more glorious inheritance than 
Canaan was to the Israelites ? 



1. Amazon. 

2. Ammonia. 

3. Atlantic. 

4. Aurora. 

5. Bigot. 

6. Board. 

7. Bombastic. 

8. Bull. 

9. Cabal. 

10. Canard. 

11. Caterpillar. 

12. Chancellor. 

13. Colossal. 

14. Diploma. 

15. Dollar. 

16. Easter. 

17. Equitant 

18. Finance. 

19. Fiscal. 

20. Howl. 

21. Hyacinth. 

22. Illustrious. 

23. Jacobin. 

24. Larboard. 

25. Left. 

26. Midst. 

27. Oxide. 

28. Pavilion. 

29. Plutonian 
3a Sophomore. 

31. Siren. 

32. Tell. 

33. Termagant 

34. Testy. 

35. Thimble. 

36. Tulip. 

37. Vaccinate. 

38. Vandalism. 

39. Volcanic. 

40. Zenith. 



I SAID in my last lecture, or rather I quoted 
another who had said, that language is fossil 
poetry. It is true that for us very often this poetry 
which is bound up in words has in great part or al- 
together disappeared. We fail to recognize it partly 
from long familiarity with it, partly from insufficient 
knowledge, partly, it may be, from never having had 
our attention called to it. None have pointed it 
out to us ; we may not ourselves have possessed the 
means of detecting it ; and thus it has come to pass 
that we have been in close vicinity to this wealth, 
which yet has not been ours. Margaret has not 
been for us ' the Pearl/ nor Esther ' the Star/ nor 
Susanna ' the Lily/ * nor Stephen * the Crown/ 
nor Albert ' the illustrious in birth.' * In our ordi- 
nary language/ as Montaigne has said, ' there are 
several excellent phrases and metaphors to be met 
with, of which the beauty is withered by age, and 
the color is sullied by too common handling ; but 
that takes nothing from the relish to an understand- 
ing man, neither does it derogate from the glory of 
those ancient authors, who, 'tis likely, first brought 

* See Jacob Grimm, Ueber Frauennamen aus Blumen, in his 
Kleinere Schriften, vol. ii. pp. 366-401 ; and on the subject of this 
paragraph more generally, Schleicher, Die Deutsche Sprache, p. 115 



those words into that lustre/ We read in one of 
Molfere's most famous comedies of one who was 
surprised to discover that he had been talking prose 
all his life without being aware of it. If we knew 
all, we might be much more surprised to find that 
we had been talking poetry, without ever having so 
much as suspected this. For indeed poetry and 
passion seek to insinuate, and do insinuate them- 
selves everywhere in language ; they preside con- 
tinually at the giving of names ; they enshrine and 
incarnate themselves in these : for ' poetry is the 
mother tongue of the human race,' as a great Ger- 
man writer has said. My present lecture shall con- 
tain a few examples and illustrations, by which I 
would make the truth of this appear. 

4 Iliads without a Homer,' some one has called, 
with a little exaggeration, the beautiful but anon- 
ymous ballad poetry of Spain. One may be per- 
mitted, perhaps, to push the exaggeration a little 
further in the same direction, and to apply the same 
language not merely to a ballad but to a word. For 
poetry, which is passion and imagination embody- 
ing themselves in words, does not necessarily de- 
mand a combination of words for this. Of this pas- 
sion and imagination a single word may be the ve- 
hicle. As the sun can image itself alike in a tiny 
dewdrop or in the mighty ocean, and can do it, 
though on a different scale, as perfectly in the one 
as in the other, so the spirit of poetry can dwell in 
and glorify alike a word and an Iliad. Nothing in 
language is too small, as nothing is too great, for it 
to fill with its presence. Everywhere it can find, 


or, not finding, can make, a shrine for itself, which 
afterwards it can render translucent and transparent 
with its own indwelling glory. On every side we 
are beset with poetry. Popular language is full of 
it, of words used in an imaginative sense, of things 
called— and not merely in transient moments of 
high passion, and in the transfer which at such mo- 
ments finds place of the image to the thing imaged, 
but permanently, — by names having immediate ref- 
erence not to what they are, but to what they are 
like. All language is in some sort, as one has said, 
a collection of faded metaphors.* 

Sometimes, indeed, they have not faded at all. 
Thus at Naples it is the ordinary language to call 
the lesser storm-waves ' pecore,' or sheep ; the lar- 
ger ' cavailoni,' or big horses. Who that has watch- 
ed the foaming crests, the white manes, as it were, 
of the larger billows as they advance in measured 
order, and rank on rank, into the bay, but will own 

* Jean Paul : 1st jede Sprache in Rucksicht geistiger Beziehungen 
ein WOrterbuch erblasster Metaphern. We regret this, while yet it is not 
wholly matter of regret. Gerber (Sprache als Kunst, vol. i. p. 387) 
urges that language would be quite unmanageable, that the words 
which we use would be continually clashing with and contradicting one 
another, if every one of them retained a lively impress of the image on 
which it originally rested, and recalled this to our mind. His words, 
somewhat too strongly put, are these: Fur den Usus der Sprache, fill 
ihren Verstand und ihre VersUlndlichkeit ist allerdings das Erblasseq 
ihrer Lautbilder, so dass sie allm&hlig als blosse Zeichen fur Begriflfe 
fungiren, nothwendig. Die Ueberzahl der Bilder wtlrde, wenn sie alle 
als solche wirkten, nur verwirren und jede klarere Auffassung, wie sie 
die praktischen Zwecke der Gegenwart fordern, unmOglich machen. 
Die Bilder warden ausserdem einander zum Theil zerstOren, indem sie 
die Farben verschiedener Sph&ren zusammenfliessen lassen, und damit 
Air den Verstand nur Unsinn bedeuten. 


not merely the fitness, but the grandeur, of this last 
image ? Let me illustrate my meaning more at 
length by the word ' tribulation.' We all know in 
a general way that this word, which occurs not sel- 
dom in Scripture and in the Liturgy, means afflic- 
tion, sorrow, anguish ; but it is quite worth our 
while to know haw it means this, and to question 
' tribulation ' a little closer. It is derived from the 
Latin ' tribulum/ which was the threshing instru- 
ment or harrow, whereby the Roman husbandman 
separated the corn from the husks ; and ' tribulatio ' 
in its primary signification was the act of this sepa- 
ration. But some Latin writer of the Christian 
Church appropriated the word and image for the 
setting forth of a higher truth ; and sorrow, distress, 
and adversity being the appointed means for the 
separating in men of whatever in them was light, 
trivial, and poor from the solid and the true, their 
chaff from their wheat,* he therefore called these 
sorrows and trials ' tribulations/ threshings, that is, 
of the inner spiritual man, without which there could 
be no fitting him for the heavenly garner. Now in 
proof of my assertion that a single word is often a 
concentrated poem, a little grain of pure gold ca- 
pable of being beaten out into a broad extent of gold- 
leaf, I will quote, in reference to this very word 
* tribulation/ a graceful composition by George 
Wither, a prolific versifier, and occasionally a poet, 
of the seventeenth century. You will at once per- 
ceive that it is all wrapped up in this word, being 

* Triticum itself may be connected with tero, tritus; [so Curtius, 
Greek Etym % No. 239.] 


from first to last only the explicit unfolding of the 
image and thought which this word has implicitly 
given ; it is as follows : — 

' Till from the straw the flail the corn doth beat, 
Until the chaff be purged from the wheat, 
Yea, till the mill the grains in pieces tear, 
The richness of the flour will scarce appear, 
So, till men's persons great afflictions touch, 
If worth be found, their worth is not so much, 
Because, like wheat in straw, they have not yet 
That value which in threshing they may get 
For till the bruising flails of God's corrections 
Have threshed out of us our vain affections; 
Till those corruptions which do misbecome us 
Are by thy sacred Spirit winnowed from us; 
Until from us the straw of worldly treasures, 
Till all the dusty chaff of empty pleasures, 
Yea, till his flail upon us he doth lay, 
To thresh the husk of this our flesh away; 
And leave the soul uncovered; nay, yet more. 
Till God shall make our very spirit poor, 
We shall not up to highest wealth aspire; 
But then we shall; and that is my desire.' 

This deeper religious use of the word ' tribulation 
was unknown to classical antiquity, belonging ex- 
clusively to the Christian writers; and the fact that 
the same deepening and elevating of the use of 
words recurs in a multitude of other, and many of 
them far more signal, instances, is one well deserv- 
ing to be followed up. Nothing, I am persuaded, 
would more mightily convince us of the new power 
which Christianity proved in the world than to com- 
pare the meaning which so many words possessed 
before its rise, and the deeper meaning which they 


obtained, so soon as they were assumed as the ve- 
hicles of its life, the new thought and feeling enlarg- 
ing, purifying, and ennobling the very words which 
they employed. This is a subject which I shall have 
occasion to touch on more than once in these lect- 
ures, but is itself well worthy of, as it would afford 
ample material for, a volume. 

On the suggestion of this word ' tribulation,' I will 
quote two or three words from Coleridge, bearing 
on the matter in hand. He has said, * In order to 
get the full sense of a word, we should first present 
to our minds the visual image that forms its primary 
meaning.' What admirable counsel is here ! If 
we would but accustom ourselves to the doing of 
this, what a vast increase of precision and force 
would all the language which we speak, and which 
others speak to us, obtain; how often would that 
which is now obscure at once become clear; how 
distinct the limits and boundaries of that which 
is often now confused and confounded ! It is 
difficult to measure the amount of food for the 
imagination, as well as gains for the intellect, 
which the observing of this single rule would 
afford us. Let me illustrate this by one or two ex- 
amples. We say of such a man that he is ' desul- 
tory.' Do we attach any very distinct meaning to 
the word ? Perhaps not. But get at the image on 
which ' desultory ' rests ; take the word to pieces ; 
learn that it is from ' desultor/ * one who rides two 
or three horses at once, leaps from one to the other, 

* [Lat. desultor is from desult-, the stem of desultus, past part, of 
tUsilirt, to leap down.] 


being never on the back of any one of them long ; 
take, I say, the word thus to pieces, and put it to- 
gether again, and what a firm and vigorous grasp 
will you have now of its meaning ! A * desultory * 
man is one who jumps from one study to another, 
and never continues for any length of time in one. 
Again, you speak of a person as ' capricious/ or as 
full of * caprices.' But what exactly are caprices ? 
4 Caprice ' is from capra> a goat.* If ever you have 
watched a goat, you will have observed how sudden, 
how unexpected, how unaccountable, are the leaps 
and springs, now forward, now sideward, now up- 
ward, in which it indulges. A ' caprice ' then is a 
movement of the mind as unaccountable, as little 
to be calculated on beforehand, as the springs and 
bounds of a goat. Is not the word so understood 
a far more picturesque one than it was before ? and 
is there not some real gain in the vigor and vivid- 
ness of impression which is in this way obtained ? 
* Pavaner ' is the French equivalent for our verb ' to 
strut/ ' fourmiller' for our verb ' to swarm.' But is 
it not a real gain to know further that the one is 
to strut as the peacock does, the other to swarm 
as do ants ? There are at the same time, as must 
be freely owned, investigations, moral no less than 
material, in which the nearer the words employed 
approach to an algebraic notation, and the less 
disturbed or colored they are by any reminiscences 
of the ultimate grounds on which they rest, the 

* [The etymology of caprice has not been discovered yet; the deriva- 
tion from capra is unsatisfactory, as it does not account for the latter 
part of the word.] 


better they are likely to fulfil the duties assigned 
to them ; but these are exceptions.* 

The poetry which has been embodied in the 
names of places, in those names which designate 
the leading features of outward nature, promonto- 
ries, mountains, capes, and the like, is very worthy 
of being elicited and evoked anew, latent as it now 
has oftentimes become. Nowhere do we so easily 
forget that names had once a peculiar fitness, which 
was the occasion of their giving. Color has often 
suggested the name, as in the well-known instance 
of our own ' Albion/ — ' the silver-coasted isle/ 
as Tennyson so beautifully has called it, — which 
had this name from the white line of cliffs presented 
by it to those approaching it by the narrow seas.t 

* A French writer, Adanson, in his Natural History of Senegal 
complains of the misleading character which names so often have, and 
urges that the only safety is to give to things names which have and can 
have no meaning at all. His words are worth quoting as a curiosity, if 
nothing else : L'experience nous apprend, que la plupart des noms sig- 
nificatife qu'on a voulu dormer a differens objets d'histoire naturelle, sont 
devenus faux a mesure qu'on a decouvert des qualites, des propri&es 
nouvelles ou contraires a celles qui avaient fait donner ces noms: il feut 
done, pour se mettre a l'abri des contradictions, eviter les termes 
figures, et meme faire en sorte qu'on ne puisse les rapporter a quelque 
Itymologie, afln que ceux, qui ont la fureur des etymologies, ne soient 
pas tenus de leur attribuer une idee fausse. lien doit etre des noms, 
comme des coups des jeux de hazard, qui n'ont pour l'ordinaire aucune 
liaison entre eux: ils seraient d'autant meilleurs qu'ils seraient moins 
significatife, moins relatifs a d'autres noms, ou a des choses connues, 
parce que Pidee ne se fixant qu'a un seul objet, le saisit beaucoup plus 
nettement, que lorsqu'elle se lie avec d'autres objets qui y ont du 
rapport. There is truth in what he says, but the remedy he proposes is 
worse than the disease. • 

f [The derivation of the name Albion has not been discovered yet; 


4 Himalaya * is 'the abode of snow.' Often, too t 
shape and configuration are incorporated in the 
name, as in * Trinacria/ or 4 the three-promontoried 
land/ which was the Greek name of Sicily; in 
4 Drepanum/ or ' the sickle/ the name which a town 
on the north-west promontory of the island bore, 
from the sickle-shaped tongue of land on which it 
was built. But more striking, as the embodiment 
of a poetical feeling, is the modern name of the 
great southern peninsula of Greece. We are all 
aware that it is called the 4 Morea ' ; but we may 
not be so well aware from whence that name is 
derived. It had long been the fashion among 
ancient geographers to compare the shape of this 
region to a platane leaf ;* and a glance at the map 
will show that the general outline of that leaf, with 
its sharply-incised edges, justified the comparison. 
This, however, had remained merely as a compari- 
son; but at the shifting and changing of names, 
that went with the breaking up of the old Greek 
and Roman civilization, the resemblance of this 
region to a leaf, not now any longer a platane, but 
a mulberry leaf, appeared so strong, that it ex- 
changed its classic name of Peloponnesus for 
4 Morea/ which embodied man's sense of this re- 
semblance, tnorus being a mulberry tree in Latin and 
popia in Greek. This etymology of ' Morea ' has 

it is even uncertain whether the word is Indo-European; see Rhys, 
Celtic Britain, p. 200.] 

* Strabo, viii. 2; Pliny, H.N. vr. 5; Agathemerus, 1. i. p. 15; l^ety 
6k o/i<nor 6xijua <pvXX(p nXardrov. 


been called in question; * but, as it seems to me, on 
no sufficient grounds. Deducing, as one objector 
does, 'Morea* from a Slavonic word 'more/ the 
sea, he finds in this derivation a support for his fa- 
vorite notion that the modern population of Greece 
is not descended from the ancient, but consists in 
far the larger proportion of intrusive Slavonic races. 
Two mountains near Dublin, which we, keeping in 
the grocery line, have called the Great and the 
Little Sugarloaf, are named in Irish ' the Golden 

In other ways also the names of places will often- 
times embody some poetical aspect under which 
now or at some former period men learned to re- 
gard them. Oftentimes when discoverers come 
upon a new land they will seize with a firm grasp 
of the imagination the most striking feature which 
it presents to their eyes, and permanently embody 
this in a word. Thus the island of Madeira is now, 
I believe, nearly bare of wood; but its sides were 
covered with forests at the time when it was first 
discovered, and hence the name, ' madeira ' in Por- 
tuguese having this meaning of wood.t Some have 
said that the first Spanish discoverers of Florida 
gave it this name from the rich carpeting of flowers 
which, at the time when first their eyes beheld it, 
everywhere covered the soil.J Surely Florida, as 

* By Fallmerayer, Gesch. der Halbinsd Morca, p. 240, sqq. The 

island of Ceylon, known to the Greeks as Taprobane, and to Milton as 

well (P. Z. iv. 75), owed this name to resemblance which in outline it 

bore to the leaf of the betel tree. [This is very doubtful.] 

t [Port madeira, ' wood,' is the same word as the Lat. materia,] 

X [The Spanish historian Herrera says that Juan Ponce de Leon, th* 


the name passes under our eye, or from our lips, is 
something more than it was before, when we may 
thus think of it as the land of flowers.* The name 

discoverer of Florida, gave that name to the country for two reasons: 
first, because it was a land of flowers; secondly, because it was discovered 
by him on March 27, 15 13, Easter Day, which festival was called by the 
Spaniards, ' Pascua Florida,' or ( Pascua de Flores,' see Herrera's 
History, tr. by Stevens, ii. p. 33, and the Discovery of Florida, by R. 
Hakluyt, ed. by W. B. Rye for the Hakluyt Soc., 1851, introd. p. x; 
cp. Larousse (s.v.). and Pierer's Conversations Lexicon. It is stated by 
some authorities that Florida was so called because it was discovered on 
Palm Sunday; this is due to a mistaken inference from the names for 
that Sunday — Pascha Florum, Pascha Floridum (Ducange), Pasque 
Fleurie (Cotgrave); see Diet. Giog. Univ., 1884, and Brockhaus.] 

* An Italian poet, Fazio degli Uberti, tells us that Florence has its 
appellation from the same cause: 

Poichd era posta in un prato di fiori, 
Le denno il nome bello, onde s' ingloria. 

It would be instructive to draw together a collection of etymologies 
which have been woven into verse. These are so little felt to be alien 
to the spirit of poetry, that they exist in large numbers, and often lend 
to the poem in which they find a place a charm and interest of their 
own. In five lines of Paradise Lost Milton introduces four such 
etymologies, namely, those of the four febled rivers of hell, though this 
will sometimes escape the notice of the English reader: 

« Abhorred Styx, the flood of deadly hate, 
Sad Acheron of sorrow, black and deep, 
Cocy tus, named of lamentation loud 
Heard on the rueful stream; fierce Phlegethon, 
Whose waves of torrent fire inflame with rage.' 
« Virgil, that great master of the proprieties,' as Bishop Pearson has so 
happily called him, does not shun, but rather loves to introduce them, 
as witness his etymology of * Byrsa,' /En. i. 367, 368; v. 59, 63 [but 
the etymology here is imaginative, the name Byrsa being of Punic, that 
is of Semitic, origin, and meaning « a fortress ' ; compare Heb. BotraK\ ; 
of Silvius,'^*. vi. 763, 765; of < Argiletum,' where he is certainly 
wrong (/En. viii. 345); of Latium,' with reference to Saturn having 


of Port Natal also embodies a fact which must be 
of interest to its inhabitants, namely, that this port 
was discovered on Christmas Day, the dies natalis 
of our Lord. 

Then again what poetry is there, as indeed there 
ought to be, in the names of flowers! I do not 
speak of those, the exquisite grace and beauty of 
whose names is so forced on us that we cannot miss 
it, such as 'Aaron's rod/ 'angel's eyes/ 'bloody 
warrior/ 'blue-bell/ 'crown imperial/ 'cuckoo- 
flower/ blossoming as this orchis does when the 
cuckoo is first heard,* ' eye-bright/ ' forget-me-not/ 

remained latent there (AZn. viii. 322; cf. Ovid, Fasti, i. 238) of 

* Laurens ' {/En. vii. 63): 

Lathimque vocari 
Maluit, his quoniam latuisset tutus in oris: 
and again of < Avernus , (=*aopvof f Mn. vi. 243); being indeed in 
this anticipated by Lucretius (vi. 741): 

quia sunt avibus contraria cunctis. 
Ovid's taste is far from faultless, and his example cannot go for much; 
but he is always a graceful versifier, and his Fasti swarms with etymol- 
ogies, correct and incorrect; as of « Agonalis • (i. 322), of ' Aprilis • (iv. 
89), of 'Augustus ' (i. 609-914), of « Februarius • (ii. 19-22), of « hostia ' 
(i. 336), of « Janus * (L 120- 127), of « Junius • (vi. 26), of ' Lemures • (v. 
479-484), of ' Lucina ' (ii. 449), of « majestas • v. 26), of « Orion 9 (v. 
535). of 'pecunia' (v. 280, 281), of « senates' (v. 64), of « Sulmo ' (iv. 
79): cf. Silius (Italicus, ix. 70); of 'Vesta' (vi. 299), of 'victima' (i. 
335); of 'Trinacris' (iv. 420). He has them also elsewhere, as of 
'Tomi' (Trist. iii. 9. 33). Lucilius, in like manner, gives us the 
etymology of « iners ' : 

Ut perhibetur iners, ars in quo non erit ulla; 

Propertius (iv. 2, 3) of « Vertumnus '; and Lucretius of * Magnes * (vi. 

* In a catalogue of English Plant Names I count thirty in which 

* cuckoo ' formed a component part 


4 gilt-cup/ (a local name for the butter-cup, drawn 
from the golden gloss of its petals,) 4 hearts-ease/ 
4 herb-of-grace,' 4 Jacob's ladder/ 4 king-cup,' 'lady's 
fingers,' * lady's smock,' 4 lady's tresses,' 4 larkspur,' 
4 Lent lily,' 4 loose-strife,' 4 love-in-idleness,' 4 love 
lies bleeding,' 4 maiden-blush,' * maiden-hair,* 
4 meadow-sweet,' 4 Our Lady's mantle,' 4 Our Lady's 
slipper,' 4 queen-of-the-meadows,' 4 reine-marguer- 
ite,' * rosemary,' 4 snowflake,' 4 Solomon's seal,' 4 star 
of Bethlehem,' 4 sun-dew,' 4 sweet Alison,' * sweet 
Cicely,' 4 Sweet William,' 4 traveller's joy,' 'Venus' 
looking-glass,' 'Virgin's bower,' and the like; but 
take 4 daisy'; surely this charming little English 
flower, which has stirred the peculiar affection of 
English poets from Chaucer to Wordsworth, and 
received the tribute of their song,* becomes more 
charming yet, when we know, as Chaucer long ago 
has told us, that ' daisy ' is day's eye, or in its early 
spelling 4 daieseighe,' the eye of day; these are his 

' That men by reson well it calle may 
The daisie, or elles the ye of day.' 

Chaucer, ed. Morris, vol. v. p. 281. 

For only consider how much is implied here. To 
the sun in the heavens this name, eye of day, was 
naturally first given, and those who transferred the 
title to our little field flower meant no doubt to 
liken its inner yellow disk or shield to the great 

* « Fair feU that gentle flower, 

A golden tuft set in a silver crown,' 
as Brown exclaims, whose singularly graceful Pastorals should not be 
suffered to fall altogether to oblivion. In Ward's recent English Poets, 
vol ii. p. 65, justice has been done to them, and to their rare beauty. 


golden orb of the sun, and the white florets which 
encircle this disk to the rays which the sun spreads 
on all sides around him. What imagination was 
here, to suggest a comparison such as this, binding 
together as this does the smallest and the greatest ? 
what a travelling of the poet's eye, with the power 
which is the privilege of that eye, from earth to 
heaven, and from heaven to earth, and of linking 
both together. So too, call up before your mind's 
eye the 'lavish gold 1 of the drooping laburnum 
when in flower, and you will recognize the poetry 
of the title, ' the golden rain,' which in German it 
bears. ' Celandine ' does not so clearly tell its own 
tale; and it is only when you have followed up the 
XeXidovtov, (swallow- wort), of which 'celandine* 
is the English representative, that the word will 
yield up the poetry which is concealed in it. 

And then again, what poetry is there often in the 
names of birds and beasts and fishes, and indeed of 
all the animated world around us; how marvellously 
are these names adapted often to bring out the most 
striking and characteristic features of the objects 
to which they are given. Thus when the Romans 
became acquainted with the stately giraffe, long 
concealed from them in the interior deserts of 
Africa, (which we learn from Pliny they first did in 
the shows exhibited by Julius Caesar,) it was hap- 
pily imagined to designate a creature combining, 
though with infinitely more grace, something of the 
height and even the proportions of the camel with 
the spotted skin of the pard, by a name which 
should incorporate both these its most prominent 


features,* calling it the * camelopard.' Nor can we* 
I think, hesitate to accept that account as the true 
one, which describes the word as no artificial crea- 
tion of scientific naturalists, but as bursting extem- 
pore from the lips of the common people, who after 
all are the truest namers, at the first moment when 
the novel creature was presented to their gaze. 
' Cerf-volant,' a name which the French have so 
happily given to the horned scarabeus, the same 
which we somewhat less poetically call the * stag- 
beetle,' is another example of what may be effected 
with the old materials, by merely bringing them 
into new and happy combinations. 

You know the appearance of the lizard, and the 
star-like shape of the spots which are sown over its 
back. Well, in Latin it is called ' stellio,' from Stella, 
a star; just as the basilisk had in Greek this name 
of ' little king ' because of the shape as of a kingly 
crown which the spots on its head might be made 
by the fancy to assume. Follow up the etymology 
of ' squirrel,' and you will find that the graceful 
creature which bears this name has obtained it as 
being wont to sit under the shadow of its own tail.t 
Need I remind you of our ' goldfinch,' evidently so 
called from that bright patch of yellow on its wing; 
our 'kingfisher,' having its name from the royal 
beauty, the kingly splendor of the plumage with 

* Varro: Quod erat figura ut camelus, maculis ut panthera; and 
Horace (Ep. ii. 196): 

Diversum confusa genus panthera camelo. 

f [The word squirrel is a diminutive of the Greek word for squirrel, 
6xiovpoS, literally < shadow-tail.'] 


which it is adorned? Some might ask why the 
stormy petrel, a bird which just skims and floats 
on the topmost wave, should bear this name ? 
No doubt we have here the French 'petrel/ or 
little Peter, and the bird has in its name an allusion 
to the Apostle Peter who at his Master's bidding 
walked for a while on the unquiet surface of an 
agitated sea. The 'lady-bird' or 'lady-cow' is 
prettily named, as indeed the whole legend about 
it is full of grace and fancy * ; but a common 
name which in many of our country parts this 
creature bears, the ' golden knob/ is prettier still. 
And indeed in our country dialects there is a wide 
poetical nomenclature which is well worthy of 
recognition; thus the shooting lights of the Aurora 
Borealis are in Lancashire ' the Merry Dancers' ; 
clouds piled up in a particular fashion are in many 
parts of England styled ' Noah's Ark ' : the puff-ball 
is ' the Devil's snuff-box ' ; the dragon-fly ' the 
Devil's darning-needle ' ; a large black beetle ' the 
Devil's coach-horse/ Any one who has watched 
the kestrel hanging poised in the air, before it 
swoops upon its prey, will acknowledge the felicity 
of the name ' windhover/ or sometimes ' windfanner/ 
which it popularly bears.t 
The amount is very large of curious legendary 

* [For other names for the « lady-bird/ and the reference in many 
of them to God and the Virgin Mary, see Grimm, Teutonic Mythology \ 

t In Wallace *s Tropical Nature there is a beautiful chapter on 
humming birds, and the names which in various languages these 
exquisite httle creatures bear. 


lore which is everywhere bound up in words, and 
which they, if duly solicited, will give back to us 
again. For example, the Greek 'halcyon/ which 
we have adopted without change, has reference, and 
wraps up in itself an allusion, to one of the most 
beautiful and significant legends of heathen an- 
tiquity; according to which the sea preserved a per- 
fect calmness for all the period, the fourteen ' hal- 
cyon days/ during which this bird was brooding over 
her nest. The poetry of the name survives, whether 
the name suggested the legend, or the legend the 
name. Take again the names of some of our pre- 
cious stones, as of the topaz, so called, as some 
said, because men were only able to conjecture 
(roTtagetv) the position of the cloud-concealed isl- 
and from which it was brought.* 

Very curious is the determination which some 
words, indeed many, seem to manifest, that their 
poetry shall not die ; or, if it dies in one form, that 
it shall revive in another. Thus if there is danger 
that, transferred from one language to another, they 
shall no longer speak to the imagination of men as 
they did of old, they will make to themselves a new 
life, they will acquire a new soul in the room of that 
which has ceased to quicken and inform them any 
more. Let me make clear what I mean by two or 
three examples. The Germans, knowing nothing 
of carbuncles, had naturally no word of their own 
for them ; and when they first found it necessary to 

* Pliny, H.N. xxxvii. 32. [But this is only popular etymology; the 
word can hardly be of Greek origin; see A. S. Palmer, Folk-Etymology, 
p. 589.] 


name them, as naturally borrowed the Latin ' car- 
bunculus/ which originally had meant ' a little live 
coal,' to designate these precious stones of a fiery 
red. But ' carbunculus/ a word full of poetry and life 
for Latin-speaking men, would have been only an 
arbitrary sign for as many as were ignorant of that 
language. What then did these, or what, rather, 
did the working genius of the language, do ? It 
adopted, but, in adopting, modified slightly yet 
effectually the word, changing it into ' Karfunkel/ 
thus retaining the framework of the original, yet at 
the same time, inasmuch as ' funkeln ' signifies ' to 
sparkle/ reproducing now in an entirely novel man- 
ner the image of the bright sparkling of the stone, 
for every knower of the German tongue. ' Marga- 
rita/ or pearl, belongs to the earliest group of Latin 
words adopted into English. The word, however, 
told nothing about itself to those who adopted it. 
But the pearl might be poetically contemplated as 
the sea-stone ; and so our fathers presently trans- 
formed ' margarita ' into ' mere-grot/ which means 
nothing less.* 

Take another illustration of this from another 
quarter. The French ' rossignol/ a nightingale, is 
undoubtedly the Latin ' lusciniola/ the diminutive 
of ' luscinia/ with the alteration, so frequent in the 
Romance languages, of the commencing ' 1 ' into ' r/ 
Whatever may be the etymology of 'luscinia/ it is 
plain that for Frenchmen in general the word would 

* [Such is the A. S. form of margarita in three versions of the parable 
of the Pearl of Great Price, St. Matt xiii. 45; see Anglo-Saxon Gos- 
/*&, ed. Skeat, 1887.] 


no longer suggest any meaning at all, hardly even 
for French scholars, after the serious transformations 
which it had undergone ; while yet, at the same 
time, in the exquisitely musical ' rossignol,' and still 
more perhaps in the Italian ' usignuolo,' there is an 
evident intention and endeavor to express some- 
thing of the music of the bird's song in the liquid 
melody of the imitative name which it bears ; and 
thus to put a new soul into the word, in lieu of that 
other which had escaped. Or again — whatever may 
be the meaning of Senlac, the name of that field 
where the ever-memorable battle, now better known 
as the Battle of Hastings, was fought, it certainly 
was not ' Sanglac/ or Lake of Blood ; the word only 
shaping itself into this significant form subsequently 
to the battle, and in consequence of it. 

One or two examples more of the perishing of the 
old life in a word, and the birth of a new in its stead, 
may be added. The old name of Athens, 'Adfjrai, 
was closely linked with the fact that the goddess 
Pallas Athene was the guardian deity of the city. 
The reason of the name, with other facts of the old 
mythology, faded away from the memory of the 
peasantry of modern Greece ; but Athens is a name 
which must still mean something for them. Ac- 
cordingly it is not 'Adrjvai now, but 'AvOifvai, or 
the Blooming, on the lips of the peasantry round 
about ; so Mr. Sayce assures us. The same process 
everywhere meets us. Thus no one who has visited 
Lucerne can fail to remember the rugged mountain 
called ' Pilatus ' or ' Mont Pilate/ which stands op- 
posite to him ; while if he has been among the few 


who have cared to climb it, he will have been shown 
by his guide the lake at its summit in which Pontius 
Pilate in his despair drowned himself, with an assur- 
ance that from this suicide of his the mountain ob- 
tained its name. Nothing of the kind. ' Mont Pi- 
late ' stands for ' Mons Pileatus? ' the capped hill ' ; 
the clouds, as one so often sees, gathering round its 
summit, and forming the shape or appearance of a 
cap or hat. When this true derivation was forgot- 
ten or misunderstood, the other explanation was 
invented and imposed.* An instructive example 
this, let me observe by the way, of that which has 
happened continually in the case of far older le- 
gends ; I mean that the name has suggested the le- 
gend, and not the legend the name. We have an 
apt illustration of this in the old notion that the 
crocodile {HpOHodeikos) could not endure saffron. 

I have said that poetry and imagination seek to 
penetrate everywhere ; and this is literally true ; 
for even the hardest, austerest studies cannot escape 
their influence ; they will put something of their 
own life into the dry bones of a nomenclature which 
seems the remotest from them, the most opposed to 
them. Thus in Danish the male and female lines 
of descent and inheritance are called respectively 
the sword-side and the spindle-side.t He who in 

* [The old name of Pilatus was Fr actus Mons, « broken mountain,' 
from its rugged cliffs and precipices. Pilatus did not become general 
till the close of the last century.] 

f [In the same way the Germans used to employ schwert and kunkel; 
compare the use of the phrases on iFa sperekealfe, and on &* spinlhealfe 
in King Alfred's will; see Kemble, Codex Diplomaticus, No. 314 (ii. 
116), Pauli's Life of Alfred, p. 225, Lappenberg's Anglo-Saxon 
Kings, ii. 04 (i88i).l 


prosody called a metrical foot consisting of one long 
syllable followed by two short (-wu) a * dactyle ' or 
a finger, with allusion to the long first joint of the 
finger, and the two shorter which follow, whoever 
he may have been, and some one was the first to do 
it, must be allowed to have brought a certain 
amount of imagination into a study so alien to it as 
prosody very well might appear. 

He did the same in another not very poetical re- 
gion who invented the Latin law-term, * stelliona- 
tus.' The word includes all such legally punishable 
acts of swindling or injurious fraud committed on 
the property of another as are not specified in any 
more precise enactment ; being drawn and derived 
from a practice attributed, I suppose without any 
foundation, to the lizard or ' stellio ' we spoke of just 
now. Having cast its winter skin, it is reported to 
swallow it at once, and this out of a malignant 
grudge lest any should profit by that which, if not 
now, was of old accounted a specific in certain dis- 
eases. The term was then transferred to any ma- 
licious wrong whatever done by one person to an- 

In other regions it was only to be expected that 
we should find poetry. Thus it is nothing strange 
that architecture, which has been called frozen mu- 
sic, and which is poetry embodied in material forms, 
should have a language of its own, not dry nor hard, 
not of the mere intellect alone, but one in the form* 
ing of which it is evident that the imaginative fac- 
ulties were at work. To take only one example— 
this, however, from Gothic art, which naturally 


yields the most remarkable — what exquisite poetry 
in the name of ' the rose window/ or better still, 
4 the rose/ given to the rich circular aperture of 
stained glass, with its leaf-like compartments, in the 
transepts of a Gothic cathedral ! Here indeed we 
may note an exception from that which usually finds 
place ; for usually art borrows beauty from nature, 
and very faintly, if at all, reflects back beauty upon 
her. In this present instance, however, art is so 
beautiful, has reached so glorious and perfect a de- 
velopment, that if the associations which the rose 
supplies lend to that window some hues of beauty 
and a glory which otherwise it would not have, the 
latter abundantly repays the obligation ; and even 
the rose itself may become lovelier still, associated 
with those jshapes of grace, those rich, gorgeous 
tints, and all the religious symbolism of that in art 
which has borrowed and bears its name. After this 
it were little to note the imagination, although that 
was most real, which dictated the term ' flamboy- 
ant ' to express the wavy, flame-like outline, which, 
at a particular period of art, the tracery in the 
Gothic window assumed. 

1 Gddsacre/ or ' Godsfield ' is the German name for 
a burial-ground, and once was our own, though we 
unfortunately have nearly, if not quite, let it go. 
What a hope full of immortality does this little 
word proclaim ! how rich is it in all the highest ele- 
ments of poetry, and of poetry in its noblest alliance, 
that is, in its alliance with faith— able as it is to 
cause all loathsome images of death and decay to 
disappear, not denying them, but suspending, losing, 


absorbing them in the sublimer thought of the 
victory over death, of that harvest of life which God 
shall one day so gloriously reap even there where 
now seems the very triumphing place of death. 
Many will not need to be reminded how fine a poem 
in Longfellow's hands unfolds itself out of this 

Lastly let me note the pathos of poetry which 
lies often in the mere tracing of the succession of 
changes in meaning which certain words have 
undergone. Thus ' elend ' in German, a beautiful 
word, now signifies wretchedness, but at first it 
signified exile or banishment.* The sense of this 
separation from the native land and from all home 
delights, as being the woe of all woes, the crown of 
all sorrows, little by little so penetrated the word, 
that what at first expressed only one form of misery, 
has ended by signifying all. It is not a little 
notable, as showing the same feeling elsewhere at 
work, that ' essil ' (=exilium) in old French signified, 
not only banishment, but ruin, destruction, misery. 
In the same manner voffripios, meaning at first no 
more than having to do with a return, comes in the 
end to signify almost anything which is favorable 
and auspicious. 

Let us then acknowledge man a born poet ; if not 

* [On this word there is an interesting discussion in Weigand's Etym . 
Diet, and compare Pott, Etym. Forsch. i. 302. Ellinge^ an English 
provincial word of infinite pathos, still common in the south of England, 
and signifying at once lonely and sad, is not connected, as has been 
sometimes supposed, with the German elend^ but represents Anglo- 
Saxon d-lenge, protracted, tedious; see the New English Dictionary 
(s. v. a/ange).] 


every man himself a ' maker/ yet every one able to 
rejoice in what others have made, adopting it freely, 
moving gladly in it as his own most congenial 
element and sphere. For indeed, as man does not 
live by bread alone, as little is he content to find in 
language merely the instrument which shall enable 
him to buy and sell and get gain, or otherwise 
make provision for the lower necessities of his 
animal life. He demands to find in it as well what 
shall stand in a real relation and correspondence to 
the higher faculties of his being, shall feed, nourish, 
and sustain these, shall stir him with images of 
beauty and suggestions of greatness. Neither here 
nor anywhere else could he become the mere 
utilitarian, even if he would. Despite his utmost 
efforts, were he so far at enmity with his own good 
as to put them forth, he could not succeed in 
exhausting his language of the poetical element 
with which it is penetrated through and through ; 
he could not succeed in stripping it of blossom, 
flower, and fruit, and leaving it nothing but a bare 
and naked stem. He may fancy for a moment that 
he has succeeded in doing this ; but it will only 
need for him to become a little better philologer, 
to go a little deeper into the story of the words 
which he is using, and he will discover that he is 
as remote as ever from such an unhappy consum- 
mation, from so disastrous a success. 

For ourselves, let us desire and attempt nothing 
of the kind. Our life is not in other ways so full of 
imagination and poetry that we need give any dil- 
igence to empty it of that which it may possess of 


these. It will always have for us all enough of 
dull and prosaic and commonplace. What profit 
can there be in seeking to extend the region of 
these ? Profit there will be none, but on the con- 
trary infinite loss. It is stagnant waters which cor- 
rupt themselves ; not those in agitation and on 
which the winds are freely blowing. Words of 
passion and imagination are, as one so grandly 
called them of old, 'winds of the soul' (tf>vxi)* 
af6/*oi),tokeepitin healthful motion and agitation, 
to lift it upward and to drive it onward, to preserve 
it from that unwholesome stagnation which con- 
stitutes the fatal preparedness for so many other 
and worse evils. 





1. Unrecognized. 

(a.) "Margaret." 
(b.) "Esther." 
(c.) "Susanna." 
(d.) "Stephen." 

2. Antiquated. 

3. Unappreciated. 

A. Single words contain poetry. 

1 . Combinations unnecessary. 

2. Embodiment perfect 

B. Popular language full of poetry 

1. "Pecori." 
2 " Cavalloni." 

3. "Tribulation." 

(a.) Derivation. 
(b.) Primary meaning. 
(c.) Appropriation. 
(d.) Secondary meaning. 
(*.) Religious use. 



1. "Desultory." 

2. " Capricious." 

3. " To strut." 

4. " To swarm." 

I. Suggested by peculiar features. 

1. Color. 

(a.) "Albion." 
(b.) " Himalaya." 

2. Shape. 

(a.) " Trinacria." 
\b.) "Drepanum." 
(c.) "Morea." 
(d.) " The Golden Spears.** 
II. Suggested by circumstance of discovery- 

1. "Madeira." 

2. Milton's etymologies, etc. (Note.) 

3. " Florida." 

4. " Port Natal." 



L Botanical. 

I. " Aaron's rod." 
2.- •• Angels' eyes." 

3. •• Bloody Warrior." 

4. "Blue-bell." 

5. "Crown imperial." 

6. "Cuckooflower." 

7. "Eye-bright." 

8. "Forget-me-not." 

9. "Gilt-cup." 
10. "Hearts-ease." 


ii. "Herb of grace." 

12. "Jacob's ladder." 

13. "King-cup." 

14. " Lady's fingers." 

15. " Lady's smock." 

16. " Lady's tresses." 

17. "Larkspur." 

18. " Lent lily." 

19. "Loose-strife." 

20. "Love-in-idleness." 

21. " Love lies bleeding." 

22. " Maiden blush." 

23. " Maiden's hair." 
2A. "Meadow-sweet." 

25. "Our Lady's mantle." 

26. " Our Lady's slipper." 

27. " Queen of the meadows,* 

28. " Reine-Marguerite." 

29. "Rosemary." 

30. "Snowflake." 

31. " Solomon's seal." 

32. " Star of Bethlehem." 

33. "Sun-dew." 

34. " Sweet Alison." 

35. " Sweet Cicely." 

36. "Sweet William." 

37. " Traveller's joy." 

38. " Venus' looking-glass." 

39. " Virgin's bower." 

40. "Daisy." 

41. " Golden rain." 

42. "Celandine." 
II. Zoological. 

1. " Camelopard." 

2. " Cerf-volant," 


3. "Stellio." 

4. "Squirrel.- 

5. " Goldfinch." 

6. " Kingfisher." 

7. "Golden knob." 
HI. Rural dialects. 

1. " Merry dancers." 

2. " Noah's ark." 

3. " Devil's snuff-box." 

4. " Devil's darning-needle." 

5. " Devil's coach-horse." 

6. " Windhover," or " Windfanner." 



I. Poetic legends in words. 

1. "Halcyon." 

2. "Topaz." 

II. Revival of old life in words. 

1. " Carbunculus." 

2. "Mere-grot" 

3. " RossignoL" 

4. "Sanglac." 

5. " Mont de Pilate." 

6. "Crocodile." 

III. Poetry of nomenclature. 

1. " Dactyle," in Prosody. 

2. " Stellionatus," in Latin Law. 

3. " Rose Window," in Architecture. 

4. " Flamboyant," in Architecture. 

5. " Godsacre," in Christian faith. 

IV. Poetry of changed meanings: "Elend," rodripos. 
V. Risumi '; Man a born poet. 


On the Poetry in Words. 

What remark is quoted from Lecture I. ? 

Why do we fail to recognize poetry in words ? 

Give examples of poetry in names which has escaped us. 

What has Montaigne said about ordinary language ? 

What do we read in one of Moliere's comedies ? 

How is this fact applied to us ? 

What is true of the giving of names ? 

What did a great German writer say of poetry ? 

How is the ballad poetry of Spain characterized ? 

To what also might the same language be applied ? 

With what is poetry in words compared ? 

What is said about popular language ? 

Illustrate with the words " pecore " and " cavalloni." 

Give the history and use of the word " tribulation." 

What is proved by the study of such words ? 

What direction has Coleridge given for the proper study of 

What would be the result of such a method of study ? 

How is this illustrated in the words " desultory," " capri- 
cious," and the verbs " to strut" and " to swarm." 

What is said of poetry embodied in the names of places ? 

Give instances in which color has suggested names. 

Give instances where shape is incorporated in names. 

What is said of the word " Morea ? " 

What is said of the •■ Great and the Little Sugarloafs ? " 


How has this etymology been called into question ? 

How have striking features of places been embodied in names 
by discoverers ? 

How is this illustrated in the names " Madeira/' " Florida/' 
and "Port Natal"? 

Give similar etymologies from Milton, Virgil, Ovid, Lucilius, 
and Propertius? 

Give miscellaneous examples of poetry in the names of 

What does the word " daisy " suggest? "Golden rain" ? 
" Celandine "? 

What is said of poetry in the names of the animated world ? 

How did the " camelopard " get its name ? " Cerf-volant" ? 
" Stellio " ? " Squirrel " ? " Goldfinch " ? " Kingfisher " ? 
"Golden knob"? 

What is said of poetical nomenclature in country dialects ? 

Give examples. 

What is illustrated by the words •• halcyon " and " topaz " ? 
Give the legends. 

What is said of the revival of old life in words ? 

Illustrate with the words " carbuncle " and " Mere-grot/' 
" rossignol," " sanglac." 

What is true of the name " Mont de Pilate " ? 

What are the male and female lines of descent called in 

Give the history and derivation of the word " crocodile." 

What truth is illustrated by the word " dactyle," and how ? 

What is the history of the Latin word " stellionatus " ? 

How is architecture defined ? 

What exception is noticed in the term " rose-window." 

What does the word " flamboyant " illustrate ? Give its de- 

What does " God's-acre" suggest? 

Give an example of poetry in successive changes of meaning. 

What has Lecture II. led us to acknowledge ? 

What does man seek in language ? 

Of what could he not strip his language ? 

What effect have words of passion and imagination on lan- 



On the Poetry in Words. 

i. Alabama. 

2. Babelmandeb. 

3. Beatrice. 

4. Christopher. 

5. Cobalt 

6. Cockatrice. 

7. El Dorado. 

8. Foxglove. 

9. Ginseng. 

10. Gopher. 

11. Grotesque. 

12. Holy Grail. 

13. Haggard. 

14. Halo. 

15. Honey-moon. 

16. Ichneumon. 

17. Influence. 

18. Interval. 

19. Iris. 

30. Katydid. 

21. Laureate. 

22. Lotus. 

23. Lucifer. 

24. Mandrake. 

25. Marigold. 

26. Meerschaum. 

27. Minnehaha. 

28. Nasturtium. 

29. Petrel. 

3a Philopena. 

31. Pine -apple. 

32. Ribald. 

33. Romance. 

34. Rosary. 

35. Ruin. 

36. Salamander. 

37. Shamrock. 

38. Sloth. 

39. Theodore. 

40. Tulip. 



IS man of a divine birth and of the stock of 
heaven ? coming from God, and, when he ful- 
fils the law of his being, and the intention of his 
creation, returning to Him again ? We need no 
more than the words he speaks to prove it; so 
much is there in them which could never have 
existed on any other supposition. How else could 
all those words which testify of his relation to God, 
and of his consciousness of this relation, and which 
ground themselves thereon, have found their way 
into his language, being as that is the veritable 
transcript of his innermost life, the genuine utter- 
ance of the faith and hope which is in him ? In 
what other way can we explain that vast and pre- 
ponderating weight thrown into the scale of good- 
ness and truth, which, despite of all in the other 
scale, we must thankfully acknowledge that his 
language never is without ? How else shall we 
account for that sympathy with the right, that 
testimony against the wrong, which, despite of all 
aberrations and perversions, is yet the prevailing 
ground-tone of all ? 

But has man fallen, and deeply fallen, from the 
heights of his original creation ? We need no more 



than his language to prove it. Like everything 
else about him, it bears at once the stamp of his 
greatness and of his degradation, of his glory and 
of his shame. What dark and sombre threads he 
must have woven into the tissue of his life, before 
we could trace those threads of darkness which run 
through the tissue of his language ! What facts of 
wickedness and woe must have existed in the one, 
ere such words could exist to designate these as are 
found in the other ! There have never wanted 
those who would make light of the moral hurts 
which man has inflicted on himself, of the sickness 
with which he is sick; who would persuade them- 
selves and others that moralists and divines, if they 
have not quite invented, have yet enormously exag- 
gerated, these. But are statements of the depth of 
his fall, the malignity of the disease with which he 
is sick, found only in Scripture and in sermons ? 
Are those who bring forward these statements libel- 
lers of human nature ? Or are not mournful corrob- 
orations of the truth of these assertions imprinted 
deeply upon every province of man's natural and 
spiritual life, and on none more deeply than on his 
language ? It needs but to open a dictionary, and 
to cast our eye thoughtfully down a few columns, 
and we shall find abundant confirmation of this 
sadder and sterner estimate of man's moral and 
spiritual condition. How else shall we explain this 
long catalogue of words, having all to do with sin 
or with sorrow, or with both ? How came they 
there ? We may be quite sure that they were not 
invented without being needed, and they have each 


a correlative in the world of realities. I open the 
first letter of the alphabet; what means this ' Ah/ 
this 'Alas/ these deep and long-drawn sighs of 
humanity, which at once encounter me there ? And 
then presently there meet me such words as these, 
' Affliction/ ' Agony/ ' Anguish/ 'Assassin/ 'Atheist/ 
'Avarice/ and a hundred more — words, you will 
observe, not laid up in the recesses of the language, 
to be drawn forth on rare occasions, but many of 
them such as must be continually on the lips of 
men. And indeed, in the matter of abundance, it 
is sad to note how much richer our vocabularies are 
in words that set forth sins, than in those that set 
forth graces. When St. Paul (Gal. v. 19-23) would 
range these over against those, ' the works of the 
flesh ' against ' the fruit of the Spirit/ those are 
seventeen, these only nine; and where do we find in 
Scripture such lists of graces, as we do at 2 Tim. Hi. 
2, Rom. i. 29-31, of their contraries?* 

Nor can I help noting, in the oversight and muster 
from this point of view of the words which consti- 
tute a language, the manner in which its utmost 
resources have been taxed to express the infinite 
varieties, now of human suffering, now of human 
sin. Thus, what a fearful thing is it that any lan- 
guage should possess a word to express the pleasure 
which men feel at the calamities of others; for the 

* Of these last the most exhaustive collection which I know is in 
Philo, De Merced, Meret. § 4. There are here one hundred and forty- 
six epithets brought together, each of them indicating a sinful moral 
habit of mind. It was not without reason that Aristotle wrote: ' It is 
possible to err in many ways, for evil belongs to the infinite; but to do 
right is possible only in one way ' (Ethic. Nic. ii. 6. 14). 


existence of the word bears testimony to the ex- 
istence of the thing. And yet such in more lan- 
guages than one may be found.* Nor are there 
wanting, I suppose, in any language, words which 
are the mournful record of the strange wickednesses 
which the genius of man, so fertile in evil, has 
invented. What whole processes of cruelty are 
sometimes wrapped up in a single word ! Thus I 
have not travelled down the first column of an Ital- 
ian dictionary before I light upon the verb ' abbac- 
inare/ meaning to deprive of sight by holding a 
red-hot metal basin close to the eye-balls. Travel- 
ling a little further in a Greek lexicon, I should 
reach dxpcaTrfpidZaiv, to mutilate by cutting off 
all the extremities, as hands, feet, nose, ears; or 
take our English ' to ganch.' And our dictionaries, 
while they tell us much, cannot tell us all. How 
shamefully rich is everywhere the language of the 
vulgar in words and phrases which, seldom allowed 
to find their way into books, yet live as a sinful 
oral tradition on the lips of men, for the setting 
forth of things unholy and impure. And of these 
words, as no less of those dealing with the kindred 
sins of revelling and excess, how many set the evil 
forth with an evident sympathy and approbation of 
it, and as themselves taking part with the sin against 
Him who has forbidden it under pain of his highest 
displeasure. How much ability, how much wit, 

* In the Greek, imxccipexaxia, in the German, « schadenfreude. 
Cicero so strongly feels the want of such a word, that he gives to 
< malevolentia ' the significance, « voluptas ex malo altering which lies 
not of necessity in it 


yes, and how much imagination must have stood in 
the service of sin, before it could possess a nomen- 
clature so rich, so varied, and often so heaven- 
defying, as that which it actually owns. 

Then further I would bid you to note the many 
words which men have dragged downward with 
themselves, and made more or less partakers of their 
own fall. Having once an honorable meaning, they 
have yet with the deterioration and degeneration of 
those that used them, or of those about whom they 
were used, deteriorated and degenerated too. How 
many, harmless once, have assumed a harmful as 
their secondary meaning ; how many worthy have 
acquired an unworthy. Thus ' knave ' meant once 
no more than lad (nor does ' knabe ' now in German 
mean more) ; ' villain ' than peasant ; a ' boor ' was 
a farmer, a ' varlet ' a serving-man, which meaning 
still survives in 'valet,' the other form of this 
word ; * a ' menial ' was one of the household ; a 
' paramour ' was a lover, an honorable one it might 
be : a ' leman ' in like manner might be a lover, 
and be used of either sex in a good sense ; a 
'beldam* was a fair lady, and is used in this 
sense by Spenser ;t a ' minion ' was a favorite 
(man in Sylvester is 'God's dearest minion 1 ) ; 
a * pedant ' in the Italian from which we bor- 
rowed the word, and for a while too with ourselves, 
was simply a tutor ; a ' proser ' was one who wrote 
in prose ; an ' adventurer ' one who set before him- 

* Yet this itself was an immense fall for the word (see Ampdre, La 
Langue Francaise, p. 219, and Littr€, Diet, de la Languc Francaise, 
preface, p. xxv.) 
t F. Q. iii. 2. At. 


self perilous, but very often noble ventures, what the 
Germans call a glucksritter ; a ' swindler/ in the 
German from which we got it, one who entered into 
dangerous mercantile speculations, without imply- 
ing that this was done with any intention to defraud 
others. Christ, according to Bishop Hall, was the 
4 ringleader ' of our salvation. 4 Time-server ' two 
hundred years ago quite as often designated one in 
an honorable as in a dishonorable sense * serving 
the time.' * ' Conceits * had once nothing conceited 
in them. An ' officious ' man was one prompt in 
offices of kindness, and not, as now, an uninvited 
meddler in things that concern him not ; something 
indeed of the older meaning still survives in the dip- 
lomatic use of the word. 

' Demure ' conveyed no hint, as it does now, of an 
overdoing of the outward demonstrations of mod- 
esty ; a ' leer ' was once a look with nothing amiss 
in it (Piers Plowman). ' Daft ' was modest or re- 
tiring ; * orgies ' were religious ceremonies ; the 
Blessed Virgin speaks of herself in an early poem as 
4 God's wench.' In * crafty ' and * cunning ' no crook- 
ed wisdom was implied, but only knowledge and 
skill; * craft/ indeed, still retains very often its more 
honorable use, a man's ' craft ' being his skill, and 
then the trade in which he is skilled. * Artful ' was 
skilful, and not tricky as now.t Could the Magda- 

* See in proof Fuller, Holy State, b. iii. c. 19. 

f Not otherwise • leichtsinnig ' in German meant cheerful once; it is 
frivolous now; while in French a * rapporteur * is now a bringer back 
of malicious reports, the malicious having little by little found its way 
into the word. 


len have ever bequeathed us ' maudlin ' in its pres- 
ent contemptuous application, if the tears of peni- 
tential sorrow had been held in due honor by the 
world ? ' Tinsel,' the French ' 6tincelle,' meant 
once anything that sparkled or glistened ; thus, 
1 cloth of tinsel ' would be cloth inwrought with sil- 
ver and gold ; but the sad experience that ' all is 
not gold that glitters/ that much showing fair to the 
eye is worthless in reality, has caused that by ' tin- 
sel/ literal or figurative, we ever mean now that 
which has no realities of sterling worth underlying 
the specious shows which it makes. ' Specious ' it- 
self, let me note, meant beautiful at one time, and 
not, as now, presenting a deceitful appearance of 
beauty. * Tawdry,' an epithet applied once to lace 
or other finery bought at the fair of St. Awdrey or 
St. Etheldreda, has run through the same course : 
it at one time conveyed no suggestion of mean fin- 
ery or shabby splendor, as now it does. ' Voluble ' 
was an epithet which had nothing of slight in it, 
but meant what ' fluent ' means now ; ' dapper * was 
what in German 'tapfer' is ; not so much neat and 
spruce as brave and bold ; ' plausible ' was worthy 
of applause ; * pert ' is now brisk and lively, but 
with a very distinct subaudition, which once it had 
not, of sauciness as well ; ' lewd ' meant no more 
than unlearned, as the lay or common people might 
be supposed to be.* ' To carp ' is in Chaucer's lan- 

* Having in mind what Mime,' connected with • dienen,' 'dienst,' 
commonly means now in German, one almost shrinks from mentioning 
that it was once a name of honor which could be and was used of the 
Blessed Virgin Mary (see Grimm, WOrterbtich, s. v.). « Schalk ' in 


guage no more than to converse ; ' to mouth ' in 
Piers Plowman is simply to speak ; ' to garble ' was 
once to sift and pick out the best ; it is now to se- 
lect and put forward as a fair specimen the worst. 

This same deterioration through use may be traced 
in the verb ' to resent.' Barrow could speak of the 
good man as a faithful ' resenter ' and requiter of 
benefits, of the duty of testifying an affectionate 
* resentment ' of our obligations to God. But the 
memory of benefits fades from us so much more 
quickly than that of injuries ; we remember and re- 
volve in our minds so much more predominantly the 
wrongs, real or imaginary, men have done us, than 
the favors we owe them, that ' resentment ' has 
come in our modern English to be confined exclu- 
sively to that deep reflective displeasure which men 
entertain against those that have done, or whom 
they fancy to have done, them a wrong. And this 
explains how it comes to pass that we do not speak 
of the ' retaliation ' of benefits at all so often as the 
' retaliation ' of injuries. ' To retaliate ' signifies no 
more than to render again as much as we have receiv- 
ed; but this is so much seldomer practised in the 
matter of benefits than of wrongs, that ' retaliation,' 
though not wholly strange in this worthier sense, 
has yet^when so employed, an unusual sound in 
our ears. ' To retaliate ' kindnesses is a language 

like manner had no evil subaudition in it at the first; nor did it ever 
obtain such during the time that it survived in English; thus in Sir 
Gawayne and the Green Knight, the peerless Gawayne is himself on 
more than one occasion a « schalk ' (424, 1776). The word survives in 
the last syllable of ' seneschal,' and indeed of ' marshal ' as well. 


which would not now be intelligible to all. ' Ani- 
mosity/ as originally employed in that later Latin 
which gave it birth, was spiritedness ; men would 
speak of the ' animosity ' or fiery courage of a horse. 
In our early English it meant nothing more ; a di- 
vine of the seventeenth century speaks of 'due 
Christian animosity/ Activity and vigor are still 
implied in the word ; but now only as displayed in 
enmity and hate. There is a Spanish proverb which 
says, * One foe is too many; a hundred friends are 
too few.' The proverb and the course which this 
word ' animosity ' has travelled may be made mutu- 
ally to illustrate one another.* 

How mournful a witness for the hard and unright- 
eous judgments we habitually form of one another 
lies in the word ' prejudice.' It is itself absolutely 
neutral, meaning no more than a judgment formed 
beforehand ; which judgment may be favorable, or 
may be otherwise. Yet so predominantly do we 
form harsh unfavorable judgments of others before 
knowledge and experience, that a * prejudice,' or 
judgment before knowledge and not grounded on 
evidence, is almost always taken in an ill sense ; 
' prejudicial ' having actually acquired mischievous 
or injurious for its secondary meaning. 

As these words bear testimony to the sin of man, 
so others to his infirmity, to the limitation of human 
faculties and human knowledge, to the truth of the 

* For quotations from our earlier authors in proof of many of the 
assertions made in the few last pages, see my Select Glossary of Eng- 
lish Words used fortnerfy in senses different from their present, 5th 
edit. 1879. 


proverb, that ' to err is human.' Thus ' to retract ' 
means properly no more than to handle again, to 
reconsider. And yet, so certain are we to find in a 
subject which we reconsider, or handle a second time, 
that which was at first rashly, imperfectly, inaccu- 
rately, stated, which needs therefore to be amended, 
modified, or withdrawn, that ' to retract ' could not 
tarry long in its primary meaning of reconsidering, 
but has come to signify to withdraw. Thus the great- 
est Father of the Latin Church, wishing toward the 
close of his life to amend whatever he might then 
perceive in his various published works incautiously 
or incorrectly stated, gave to the book in which he 
carried out this intention (for authors had then no 
such opportunities as later editions afford us now), 
this very name of 'Retractations? being literally ' re- 
handlings/ but in fact, as will be plain to any one 
turning to the work, withdrawings of various state- 
ments by which he was no longer prepared to abide. 

But urging, as I just now did, the degeneration 
of words, I should seriously err, if I failed to remind 
you that a parallel process of purifying and enno- 
bling has also been going forward, most of all 
through the influences of a Divine faith working in 
the world. This, as it has turned men from evil 
to good, or has lifted them from a lower earthly 
goodness to a higher heavenly, so has it in like 
manner elevated, purified, and ennobled a multi- 
tude of the words which they employ, until these, 
which once expressed only an earthly good, express 
now a heavenly. The Gospel of Christ, as it is the re- 


demption of man, so is it in a multitude of instances 
the redemption of his word, freeing it from the 
bondage of corruption, that it should no longer be 
subject to vanity, nor stand any more in the service 
of sin or of the world, but in the service of God 
and of his truth. Thus the Greek had a word for 
1 humility '; but for him this humility meant — that 
is, with rare exceptions — meanness of spirit. He 
who brought in the Christian grace of humility, 
did in so doing rescue the term which expressed it 
for nobler uses and a far higher dignity than hitherto 
it had attained. There were ' angels' before heaven 
had been opened, but these only earthly messen- 
gers; * martyrs ' also, or witnesses, but these not 
unto blood, nor yet for God's highest truth; ' apostles,' 
but sent of men ; ' evangels,' but these good tidings 
of this world, and not of the kingdom of heaven ; 
' advocates,' but * not with the Father.' ' Paradise ' 
was a word common in slightly different forms to al- 
most all the nations of the East ; but it was for 
them only some royal park or garden of delights; till 
for the Jew it was exalted to signify the mysterious 
abode of our first parents; while higher honors 
awaited it still, when on the lips of the Lord it 
signified the blissful waiting-place of faithful departed 
souls (Luke xxiii. 43); yea, the heavenly blessedness 
itself (Rev. ii. 7). A 'regeneration,' or palingenesy, 
was not unknown to the Greeks ; they could speak 
of the earth's ' regeneration' in spring-time, of rec- 
ollection as the ' regeneration ' of knowledge ; the 
Jewish historian could describe the return of his 
countrymen from the Babylonian Captivity, and theit 


re-establishment in their own land, as the ' regen- 
eration ' of the Jewish State. But still the word, 
whether as employed by Jew or Greek, was a long 
way off from that honor reserved for it in the 
Christian dispensation — namely, that it should be 
the vehicle of one of the most blessed mysteries of the 
faith.* And many other words in like manner there 
are, 'fetched from the very dregs of paganism; as 
Sanderson has it (he instances the Latin ' sacrament/ 
the Greek ' mystery'), which the Holy Spirit has not 
refused to employ for the setting forth of the glorious 
facts of our redemption ; and, reversing the impious 
deed of Belshazzar, who profaned the sacred vessels 
of God's house to sinful and idolatrous uses (Dan. v. 2) 
has consecrated the very idol-vessels of Babylon to 
the service of the sanctuary. Let us now proceed 
to contemplate some of the attestations to God's 
truth, and then some of the playings into the hands 
of the devil's falsehood, which lurk in words. And 
first, the attestations to God's truth, the fallings in 
of our words with his unchangeable Word ; for these, 
as the true uses of the word, while the other are 
only its abuses, have a prior claim to be considered. 
Thus, some modern ' false prophets/ willing to 
explain away all such phenomena of the world 
around us as declare man to be a sinner, and lying 
under the consequences of sin, would fain have them 
to believe that pain is only a subordinate kind of 
pleasure, or, at worst, a sort of needful hedge and 
guardian of pleasure. But a deeper feeling in the 
universal heart of man bears witness to quite another 
* See my Synonyms of the N. T. § 18. 


explanation of the existence of pain in the present 
economy of the world — namely, that it is the correl- 
ative of sin, that it is punishment; and to this the word 
'pain/ so closely connected with ' poena/ bears wit- 
ness.* Pain is punishment ; for so the word, and so 
the conscience of every one that is suffering it, de- 
clares. Some will not hear of great pestilences being 
scourges of the sins of men; and if only they can find 
out the immediate, imagine that they have found out 
the ultimate, causes of these; while yet they have only 
to speak of a ' plague ' and they implicitly avouch the 
very truth which they have set themselves to deny; 
for a ' plague/ what is it but a stroke; so called, be- 
cause that universal conscience of men which is 
never at fault, has felt and in this way confessed it 
to be such? For here, as in so many other cases, 
that proverb stands fast, ' Vox populi, vox Dei ' ; 
and may be admitted to the full; that is, if only we 
keep in mind that this ' people ' is not the populace 
either in high place or in low; and this ' voice of the 
people ' no momentary outcry, but the consenting 
testimony of the good and wise, of those neither 
brutalized by ignorance, nor corrupted by a false 
cultivation, in many places and in various times. 

To one who admits the truth of this proverb it 
will be nothing strange that men should have agreed 
to call him a ' miser/ or miserable, who eagerly 
scrapes together and painfully hoards the mammon 
of this world. Here too the moral instinct lying 
deep in all hearts has borne testimony to the tor- 

* [Our word pain is actually the same word as the Latin pdena, 
coming to us through the French /«***.] 


menting nature of this vice, to the gnawing pains 
with which even in this present time it punishes its 
votaries, to the enmity which there is between it 
and all joy ; and the man who enslaves himself to his 
money is proclaimed in our very language to be a 
' miser', or miserable man* 

Other words bear testimony to great moral truths. 
St. James has, I doubt not, been often charged with 
exaggeration for saying, ' Whosoever shall keep the 
whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty 
of all ' (ii. 10). The charge is an unjust one. The 
Romans with their * integritas ' said as much ; we 
too say the same who have adopted ' integrity ' 
as a part of our ethical language. For what is ' in- 
tegrity ' but entireness ; the ' integrity ' of the body 
being, as Cicero explains it, the full possession and 
the perfect soundness of all its members ; and moral 
* integrity/ though it cannot be predicated so abso- 
lutely of any sinful child of Adam, is this same en- 
tireness or completeness transferred to things high- 
er. ' Integrity ' was exactly that which Herod had 
not attained, when at the Baptist's bidding he ' did 
many things gladly* (Mark vi. 20), but did not put 
away his brother's wife; whose partial obedience 
therefore profited nothing; he had dropped one link 
in the golden chain of obedience, and as a conse- 
quence the whole chain fell to the ground. 

* 'Misery' does not any longer signify avarice; nor 'miserable' 
avaricious; but these meanings they once possessed (see my Select 
Glossary, s. w.). In them men said, and in ' miser ' we still say, in 
one word what Seneca when he wrote,-—' Nulla avaritia sine poena est, 
quamvis satis sit ipsa pcenarun? — took a sentence to say. 


It is very noticeable, and many have noticed, that 
the Greek word signifying wickedness {novrfpia) 
comes of another signifying labor {novos). How 
well does this agree with those passages in Scrip- 
ture which describe sinners as ' wearying themselves 
to commit iniquity/ as ' laboring in the very fire ' ; 
1 the martyrs of the devil/ as South calls them, being 
at more pains to go to hell than the martyrs of God 
to go to heaven. ' St. Chrysostom's eloquence/ as 
Bishop Sanderson has observed, ' enlarges itself and 
triumphs in this argument more frequently than 
in almost any other ; and he clears it often and be- 
yond all exception, both by Scripture and reason, 
that the life of a wicked or worldly man is a very 
drudgery, infinitely more toilsome, vexatious, and 
unpleasant than a godly life is/* 

How deep an insight into the failings of the 
human heart lies at the root of many words ; 
and if only we would attend to them, what valu- 
able warnings many contain against subtle tempta- 
tions and sins ! Thus, all of us have felt the 
temptation of seeking to please others by an un- 
manly assenting to their opinion, even when our 
own independent convictions did not agree with 
theirs. The existence of such a temptation, and 
the fact that too many yield to it, are both de- 
clared in the Latin for a flatterer — * assentator ' — that 
is, 'an assenter'; one who has not courage to say 
No y when a Yes is expected from him: and quite 
independently of the Latin, the German, in its con- 
temptuous and precisely equivalent use of ' Jaherr/ 
* Sermons, London,. i6ji, vol. ii. p. 244. 


a * yea-Lord/ warns us in like manner against all 
such unmanly compliances. Let me note that we 
also once possessed ' assentation ' in the sense of un- 
worthy flattering lip-assent; the last example of it in 
our dictionaries is from Bishop Hall : ' It is a fear- 
ful presage of ruin when the prophets conspire in 
assentation; 9 but it lived on to a far later day, being 
found and exactly in the same sense in Lord Chester- 
field's Letters to his son; he there speaks of ' abject 
flattery and indiscriminate assentation.' * The word 
is well worthy to be revived. 

Again, how well it is to have that spirit of depre- 
ciation, that eagerness to find spots and stains in 
the characters of the noblest and the best, who would 
otherwise oppress and rebuke us with a goodness 
and a greatness so immensely superior to our own, 
— met and checked by a word at once so expressive, 
and so little pleasant to take home to ourselves, as the 
French 'denigreur/ a ' blackener.' This also has 
fallen out of use; which is a pity, seeing that the race 
which it designates is so far from being extinct. 

Full too of instruction and warning is our pres- 
ent employment of ' libertine. ' A ' libertine, ' in 
earlier use, was a speculative free-thinker in matters 
of religion and in the theory of morals. But as by a 
process which is seldom missed free- thinking does 
and will end in free-acting, he who has cast off one 
yoke also casting off the other, so a ' libertine ' came 

* August 10, 1749. [In the New English Dictionary a quotation 
for the word is given as late as 1859. I. Taylor, in his Logic in The- 
ology, p. 265, says: « A safer anchorage may be found than the shoal of 
mindless assentation.'] 


in two or three generations to signify a profligate, 
especially in relation to women, a licentious and de- 
bauched person.* 

Look a little closely at the word ' passion.' We 
sometimes regard a ' passionate ' man as a man of 
strong will, and of real, though ungoverned, energy. 
But ' passion ' teaches us quite another lesson ; for 
it, as a very solemn use of it declares, means proper- 
ly ' suffering'; and a ' passionate ' man is not one who 
is doing something, but one suffering something to 
be done to him. When then a man or child is ' in 
a passion/ this is no outcoming in him of a strong 
will, of a real energy, but the proof rather that, for 
the time at least, he is altogether wanting in these ; 
he is suffering, not doing ; suffering his anger, or 
whatever evil temper it may be, to lord over him 
without control. Let no one then think of ' passion* 
as a sign of strength. One might with as much jus- 
tice conclude a man strong because he was often 
well beaten ; this would prove that a strong man 
was putting forth his strength on him, but certainly 
not that he was himself strong. The same sense of 
* passion ' and feebleness going together, of the first 
as the outcome of the second, lies, I may remark by 
the way, in the twofold use of ' impotens ' in the 
Latin, which meaning first weak, means then violent, 
and then weak and violent together. For a long 
time ' impotent ' and * impotence ' in English embod- 
ied the same twofold meaning. 

Or meditate on the use of ' humanitas/ and the 
use (in Scotland at least) of the ' humanities/ to 

* [See the author's Select Glossary (s. v.)] 


designate those studies which are esteemed the 
fittest for training the true humanity in every 
man.* We have happily overlived in England the 
time when it was still in debate among us whether 
education is a good thing for every living soul 
or not; the only question which now seriously 
divides Englishmen being, in what manner that men- 
tal and moral training, which is society's debt to 
each one of its members, may be most effectually 
imparted to him. Were it not so, were there any 
still found to affirm that it was good for any man to 
be left with powers not called out and faculties un- 
trained, we might appeal to this word ' humanitas/ 
and the use to which the Roman put it, in proof 
that he at least was not of this mind. By ' human- 
itas ' he intended the fullest and most harmonious 
development of all the truly human faculties and pow- 
ers. Then, and then only, man was truly man, when 
he received this; in so far as he did not receive this, 
his 'humanity* was maimed and imperfect; he fell 
short of his ideal, of that which he was created to be. 
In our use of ' talents/ as when we say ' a man of 
talents/ there is a clear recognition of the responsi- 
bilities which go along with the possession of intel- 
lectual gilts and endowments, whatever these maybe. 
We owe our later use of ' talent * to the parable 
(Matt. xxv. 14), in which more or fewer of these are 
committed to the several servants, that they may 
trade with them in their master's absence and give 

• [Compare the use of the term Littera Humaniores in the Univer- 
sity of Oxford to designate the oldest and most characteristic of her 
examinations or 'Schools.'] 


account of their employment at his return. Men 
may choose to forget the ends for which their * tal- 
ents ' were given them ; they may count them mere- 
ly something which they have gotten ; * they may 
turn them to selfish ends ; they may glorify them- 
selves in them, instead of glorifying the Giver; they 
may practically deny that they were given at all ; 
yet in this word, till they can rid their vocabulary of 
it, abides a continual memento that they were so 
given, or rather lent, and that each man shall have 
to render an account of their use. 

Again, in ' oblige ' and ' obligation/ as when we 
speak of 'being obliged/ or of having 'received an 
obligation/ a moral truth is asserted — this namely, 
that having received a benefit or a favor at the hands 
of another, we are thereby morally bound to show 
ourselves grateful for the same. We cannot be 
ungrateful without denying not merely a moral 
truth, but one incorporated in the very language 
which we employ. Thus South, in a sermon, Of the 
odious Sin of Ingratitude, has well asked, ' If the 
conferring of a kindness did not bind the person 
upon whom it was conferred to the returns of 
gratitude, why, in the universal dialect of the world, 
are kindnesses called obligations?' \ 

Once more — the habit of calling a woman's chas- 
tity her ' virtue ' is significant. I will not deny that 
it may spring in part from a tendency which often 

* An 2£iS, as the heathen did, not a dooprf/^a y as the Christian does; 
see a remarkable passage in Bishop Andrewes* Sermons, vol. iii. p. 384. 

♦ Sermons \ London, 1737* vol. i. p. 407. 


meets us in language, to narrow the whole circle of 
virtues to some one upon which peculiar stress is 
laid ; * but still, in selecting this peculiar one as the 
' virtue ' of woman, there speaks out a true sense that 
this is indeed for her the citadel of the whole moral 
being, the overthrow of which is the overthrow of 
all ; that it is the keystone of the arch, which being 
withdrawn, the whole collapses and falls. 

Or consider all which is witnessed for us in ' kind.' 
We speak of a ' kind ' person, and we speak of man- 
' kind/ and perhaps, if we think about the matter at 
all, fancy that we are using quite different words, or 
the same words in senses quite unconnected. But 
they are connected, and by closest bonds ; a ' kind ' 
person is one who acknowledges his kinship with 
other men, and acts upon it ; confesses that he owes 
to them, as of one blood with himself, the debt of 
love.+ Beautiful before, how much more beautiful 
do ' kind ' and ' kindness ' appear, when we apprehend 
the root out of which they grow, and the truth which 
they embody; that they are the acknowledgment 
in loving deeds of our kinship with our brethren : of 
the relationship which exists between all the mem- 
bers of the human family, and of the obligations 
growing out of the same. 

But I observed just now that there are also words 

* Thus in Jewish Greek iXeTf/iodvrrf stands often for Stxatoddrif 
(Dent. vi. 25; Ps. cii. 6, LXX), or almsgiving for righteousness. 

f Thus Hamlet does much more than merely play on words when he 
calls his father's brother, who had married his mother, * A little more 
than kin, and less than kind.' [For the relation between kind (the adj.) 
and kind (' nature,' the sb.) see Skeat's Diet.] 


bearing on them the slime of the serpent's trail ; uses, 
too, of words which imply moral perversity — not up- 
on their parts who employ them now in their ac- 
quired senses, but on theirs from whom little by little 
they received their deflection, and were warped from 
their original rectitude. A ' prude ' is now a woman 
with an over-done affectation of a modesty which she 
does not really feel, and betraying the absence of 
the substance by this over-preciseness and nice- 
ness about the shadow. Goodness must have gone 
strangely out of fashion, the corruption of manners 
must have been profound, before matters could have 
come to this point. ' Prude/ a French word, means 
properly virtuous or prudent.* But where morals are 
greatly and generally relaxed, virtue is treated as 
hypocrisy; and thus, in a dissolute age, and one in- 
credulous of any inward purity, by the i prude ' or 
virtuous woman is intended a sort of female Tartuffe, 
affecting a virtue which it is taken for granted none 
can really possess ; and the word abides, a proof of 
the world's disbelief in the realities of goodness, of 
its resolution to treat them as hypocrisies and deceits. 
Again, why should ' simple ' be used slightingly, 
and ' simpleton ' more slightingly still ? The ' sim- 
ple ' is one properly of a single fold ; t a Nathanael, 
whom as such Christ honored to the highest (John 
i. 47) ; and, indeed, what honor can be higher than 
to have nothing double about us, to be without du- 

* [Compare French prude, on the etymology of which see Sender's 
French Diet., ed. 3 (1888)]. 

f [Latin simplicem; for Lat sim- % sin-=Gretk d in a-ita£, see 
Brugmann, Grundriss, § 238, Curtius, Greek Etytn. No. 599.] 


plicities or folds ? Even the world, which despises 
' simplicity/ does not profess to admire ' duplicity,' 
or double-foldedness. But inasmuch as it is felt 
that a man without these folds will in a world like 
ours make himself a prey, and as most men, if obliged 
to choose between deceiving and being deceived, 
would choose the former, it has come to pass that 
1 simple/ which in a kingdom of righteousness would 
be a word of highest honor carries with it in this 
world of ours something of contempt.* Nor can we 
help noting another involuntary testimony borne by 
human language to human sin. I mean this, — that 
an idiot, or one otherwise deficient in intellect, is 
called an i innocent/ or one who does no hurt; 
this use of ' innocent' assuming that to do hurt and 
harm is the chief employment to which men turn 
their intellectual powers, that where they are wise, 
they are oftenest wise to do evil. 

Nor are these isolated examples of the contemp- 
tuous use which words expressive of goodness grad- 
ually acquire. Such meet us on every side. Our 
1 silly ' is the Old-English ' saglig/ or blessed. We 
see it in a transition state in our early poets, with 
whom ' silly ' is an affectionate epithet which sheep 
obtain for their harmlessness. One among our ear- 
liest calls the new-born Lord of Glory Himself * this 
harmless silly babe/ But ' silly ' has travelled on 

* ' Schlecht,' which in modern German means bad, good for nothing, 
once meant good, — good, that is, in the sense of right or straight, but 
has passed through the same stages to the meaning which it now pos- 
sesses; 'albern* has done the same (Max Muller, Science of Language y 
2nd series, p. 274). 


the same lines as ' simple/ ' innocent, ' and so many 
other words. The same moral phenomenon repeats 
itself continually. Thus ' sheepish ' in the Ormulum 
is an epithet of honor : it is used of one who has the 
mind of Him who was led as a sheep to the slaugh- 
ter. At the first promulgation of the Christian faith, 
while the name of its Divine Founder was still strange 
to the ears of the heathen, they wet- e wont, some in 
ignorance, but more of malice, slightly to mispro- 
nounce this name, turning ' Christus ' into ' Chrestus ' 
—that is, the benevolent or benign. That these last 
meant no honor thereby to the Lord of Life, but the 
contrary, is certain ; this word, like ' silly/ ' inno- 
cent/ ' simple/ having already contracted a slight 
tinge of contempt, without which there would have 
been no inducement to fasten it on the Saviour. 
The French have their € bonhomie ' with the same 
undertone of contempt, the Greeks their evqdeia. 
Lady Shiel tells us of the modern Persians, ' They 
have odd names for describing the moral qualities ; 
" Sedakat " means sincerity, honesty, candor; but 
when a man is said to be possessed of" sedakat," the 
meaning is that he is a credulous, contemptible 
simpleton/ It is to the honor of the Latin tongue, 
and very characteristic of the best aspects of Roman 
life, that ' simplex ' and.' simplicitas ' never acquired 
this abusive signification. 

Again, how prone are we all to ascribe to chance 
or fortune those gifts and blessings which indeed 
come directly from God — to build altars to Fortune 
rather than to Him who is the author of every good 

* Life and Manners in Persia, p. 247. 


thing which we have gotten. And this faith of men 
that their blessings, even their highest, come to 
them by a blind chance, they have incorporated in 
a word ; for ' happy ' and ' happiness ' are connected 
with 'hap/ which is chance; — how unworthy, then, 
to express any true felicity, whose very essence is 
that it excludes hap or chance, that the world 
neither gave nor can take it away.* Against a 
similar misuse of ' fortunate,' ' unfortunate/ Words- 
worth very nobly protests, when, of one who, having 
lost everything else, had yet kept the truth, he 

* Call not the royal Swede unfortunate, 
Who never did to Fortune bend the knee.' 

There are words which reveal a wrong or insuffi- 
cient estimate that men take of their duties, or that 
at all events others have taken before them; for it is 
possible that the mischief may have been done long 
ago, and those who now use the words may only 
have inherited it from others, not helped to bring it 
about themselves. An employer of labor advertises 
that he wants so many 'hands'; but this language 
never could have become current, a man could 
never have thus shrunk into a ' hand ' in the eyes of 
his fellow-man, unless this latter had in good part 
forgotten that, annexed to those hands which he 
would purchase to toil for him, were also heads and 
heartst— a fact, by the way, of which, if he per- 

* The heathen with their evdattiovia, inadequate as this word must 
be allowed to be, put us here to shame, 
f A similar use of 606/iara for slaves in Greek rested originally on 


sists in forgetting it, he may be reminded in very- 
unwelcome ways at the last. In Scripture there is 
another not unfrequent putting of a part for the 
whole, as when it is said, ' The same day there were 
added unto them about three thousand souls ' (Acts 
ii. 41). ' Hands ' here, ' souls ' there — the contrast 
may suggest some profitable reflections. 

There is another way in which the immorality of 
words mainly displays itself, and in which they 
work their worst mischief; that is, when honorable 
names are given to dishonorable things, when sin 
is made plausible; arrayed, it may be, in the very 
colors of goodness, or, if not so, yet in such as go 
far to conceal its own native deformity. 'The 
tongue,' as St. James has said, 'is a world of iniquity 1 
(iii. 7); or, as some would render his words, and 
they are then still more to our puf pose, ' the orna- 
ment of iniquity/ that which sets it out in fair and 
attractive colors. 

How much wholesomer on all accounts is it that 
there should be an ugly word for an ugly thing, one 
involving moral condemnation and disgust, even at 
the expense of a little coarseness, rather than one 
which plays fast and loose with the eternal princi- 
ples of morality, makes sin plausible, and shifts the 
divinely reared landmarks of right and wrong, thus 
bringing the user of it under the woe of them ' that 

the same forgetfulness of the moral worth of every man. It has found 
its way into the Septuagint and Apocrypha (Gen. xxxvi. 6; 2 Mace, 
viii. 1 1 ; Tob. x. 10) ; and occurs once in the New Testament (Rev. xviii. 
13). [In Gen. xxxvi. 6 the 606/uara of the Septuagint is a rendering 
of the Hebrew nafshbth % souls, so Luther translates ' Seelen.'] 


call evil good, and good evil, that put darkness for 
light, and light for darkness, that put bitter for sweet, 
and sweet for bitter* (Isa. v. 20). On this text, 
and with reference to this scheme, South has written 
four of his grandest sermons, bearing this striking 
title, Of the fatal Imposture and Force of Words* 
How awful, yea how fearful, is this * imposture 
and force ' of theirs, leading men captive at will. 
There is an atmosphere about them which they 
are evermore diffusing, a savor of life or of death, 
which we insensibly inhale at each moral breath we 
draw.t ' Winds of the soul/ as we have already 
heard them called, they fill its sails, and are continu- 
ally impelling it upon its course, to heaven or to 

Thus how different the light in which we shall 
have learned to regard a sin, according as we have 
been wont to designate it, and to hear it designa- 
ted, by a word which brings out its loathsome- 
ness and deformity; or by one which palliates this 

* Sermons, 1737, vol. ii. pp. 313-35 1; vol. vi. pp. 3-120. Thus on 
those who pleaded that their 'honor ' was engaged, and that therefore 
they could not go back from this or that sinful act:—* Honor is indeed 
a noble thing, and therefore the word which signifies it must needs be 
very plausible. But as a rich and glistening garment may be cast over 
a rotten body, so an illustrious commanding word may be put upon a 
vile and an ugly thing— for words are but the garments, the loose gar- 
ments of things, and so may easily be put off and on according to the 
humor of him who bestows them. But the body changes not, though 
the garments do.' 

f Bacon's words have been often quoted, but they will bear being 
quoted once more: Credunt enim homines rationem suam verbis im- 
perare. Sed fit etiam ut verba vim suam super intellectum retorqueant 
et reflectant. 


and conceals; men, as one said of old, being wont for 
the most part to be ashamed not of base deeds but 
of base names affixed to those deeds. In the murder 
trials at Dublin, 1883, those destined to the assassin's 
knife were spoken of by approvers as persons to be 
removed, and their death constantly described as 
their ' removal/ In Sussex it is never said of a man 
that he is drunk. He may be ' tight,' or ' primed/ or 
4 crank,' or ' concerned in liquor,' nay, it may even be 
admitted that he had taken as much liquor as was 
good for him; but that he was drunk, oh never.* 
Fair words for foul things are everywhere only too 
frequent; thus in-* drug-damned Italy,' when poison- 
ing was the rifest, nobody was said to be poisoned; 
it was only that the death of this one or of that had 
been 'assisted' (aiutata). Worse still are words 
which seek to turn the edge of the divine threaten- 
ings against some sin by a jest; as when in France a 
subtle poison, by whose aid impatient heirs delivered 
themselves from those who stood between them 
and the inheritance which they coveted, was called 
' poudre de succession.' We might suppose before- 
hand that such cloaks for sin would be only found 
among people in an advanced state of artificial cul- 
tivation. But it is not so. Captain Erskine, who 
visited the Fiji Islands before England had taken 
them into her keeping, and who gives some extra- 
ordinary details of the extent to which cannibalism 
then prevailed among their inhabitants, pork and 
human flesh being their two staple articles of food, 

* « Pransus ' and ' potus,' in like manner, as every Latin scholar 
knows, mean much more than they say. 


relates in his deeply interesting record of his voyage 
that natural pig they called ' short pig/ and man 
dressed and prepared for food, ' bng\>vg! There was 
doubtless an attempt here to carry off with a jest 
the revolting character of the practice in which 
they indulged. For that they were themselves aware 
of this, that their consciences did bear witness 
against it, was attested by their uniform desire to 
conceal, if possible, all traces of the practice from 
European eyes. 

But worst, perhaps, of all are names which throw 
a flimsy veil of sentiment over some sin. What a 
source, for example, of mischief without end in our 
country parishes is the one practice of calling a child 
born out of wedlock a ' love-child/ instead of a 
bastard. It would be hard to estimate how much 
it has lowered the tone and standard of morality 
among us; or for how many young women it may 
have helped to make the downward way more slop- 
ing still. How vigorously ought we to oppose our- 
selves to all such immoralities of language. This 
opposition, it is true, will never be easy or pleasant; 
for many who will endure to commit a sin, will pro- 
foundly resent having that sin called by its right 
name. Pirates, as Aristotle tells us, in his time 
called themselves 'purveyors/* Buccaneers, men 
of the same bloody trade, were by their own account 
' brethren of the coast/ Shakespeare's thieves are 
only true to human nature, when they name them- 
selves ' St. Nicholas' clerks/ ' michers/ ' nuthooks/ 
• minions of the moon/ anything in short but thieves; 
* Rhet. iii. 2: oi Xpdrai adrovS nop\6xd% xaXov6t rvr. 


when they claim for their stealing that it shall 
not be so named, but only conveying (' convey 
the wise it call ' ) ; the same dislike to look an ugly 
fac* in the face reappearing among the voters in 
some of our corrupter boroughs, who receive, not 
bribes — they are hugely indignant if this is imputed 
to them — but ' head-money ' for their votes. 
Shakespeare indeed has said that a rose by any 
other name would smell as sweet ; but there are 
some things which are not roses, and which are 
counted to smell a great deal sweeter being 
called by any other name than their own. Thus, 
to deal again with bribes, call a bribe ' palm oil/ or 
a ' pot de Yin,' and how much of its ugliness disap- 
pears. Far more moral words are the English 
' sharper ' and ' blackleg ' than the French ' cheva- 
lier d'industrie ' : * and the same holds good of the 
English equivalent, coarse as it is, for the Latin 
' conciliatrix/ In this last word we have a notable 
example of the putting of sweet for bitter, of the 
attempt to present a disgraceful occupation on an 
amiable, almost a sentimental side, rather than in 
its own proper deformity.t 

* For the rise of this phrase, see Lemontey, Louis XIV, p. 43. 

f This tendency of men to throw the mantle of an honorable word 
over a dishonorable thing, or, vice versa, to degrade an honorable thing, 
when they do not love it, by a dishonorable appellation, has in Greek a 
word to describe it, dieoHop^edBat, itself a word with an interesting 
history; while the great ethical teachers of Greece frequently occupy 
themselves in detecting and denouncing this most mischievous among all 
the impostures of words. Thus, when Thucydides (iii. 82) would paint 
the fearful moral ruin which her great Civil War had wrought, he 
adduces this alteration of the received value of words, this fitting of 


Use and custom soon dim our eyes in such mat- 
ters as these ; else we should be deeply struck by 
a familiar instance of this falsehood in names, one 
which perhaps has never struck us at all — I mean 
the profane appropriation of ' eau de vie ' (water of 
life), a name borrowed from some of the Saviour> 
most precious promises (John iv. 14 ; Rev. xxii. 17), 
to a drink which the untutored savage with a truef 
instinct has named * fire-water ' ; which, sad to say, 
is known in Tahiti as ' British water ' ; and which 
has proved for thousands and tens of thousands, in 
every clime, not 'water of life/ but the fruitful 
source of disease, crime, and madness, bringing 
forth first these, and when these are finished, bring- 
ing forth deatji. There is a blasphemous irony in 
this appropriation of the language of heaven to that 
which, not indeed in its use, but too frequent abuse, 
is the instrument of hell, that is almost without a 

false names to everything — names of honor to the base, and of baseness 
to the honorable — as one of the most remarkable tokens of this, even as 
it again set forward the evil, of which it had been first the result. 

* Milton in a profoundly instructive letter, addressed by him to one 
of the friends whom he made during his Italian tour, encourages him in 
those philological studies to which he had devoted his life by such words 
as these: Neque enim qui sermo, purusne an corruptus, quseve loquendi 
proprietas quotidiana populo sit, parvi interesse arbitrandum est, quae 
res Athenis non semel saluti fuit; imrao vero, quod PI atom's sententia 
est, immutato vestiendi more habituque graves in Republica motus muta- 
tionesque portendi, equidem potius collabente in vitium atque errorem 
loquendi usu occasum ejus urbis reraque humilem et obscuram subsequ) 
crediderin: verba enim partim inscita et putida, partim mendosa et per- 
peram prolata, quid si ignavos et oscitantes et ad servile quidvLs jam 
•lim paratos incolarum animos haud levi indicio declarant ? Contra 


If I wanted any further evidence of this, the mor- 
al atmosphere which words diffuse, I would ask you 
to observe how the first thing men do, when engag- 
ed in controversy with others, be it in the conflict 
of the tongue or the pen, or of weapons more wound- 
ing yet, if such there be, is ever to assume some 
honorable name to themselves, such as, if possible, 
shall beg the whole subject in dispute, and at the 
same time to affix on their adversaries a name which 
shall place them in a ridiculous or contemptible or 
odious light * A deep instinct, deeper perhaps than 
men give any account of to themselves, tells them 
how far this will go ; that multitudes, utterly un- 
able to weigh the arguments on one side or the 
other, will yet be receptive of the influences which 
these words are evermore, however imperceptibly, 
diffusing. By argument they might hope to gain 
over the reason of a few, but by help of these nick- 
names they enlist what at first are so much more 
potent, the prejudices and passions of the many, on 
their side. Thus when at the breaking out of our 
Civil War the Parliamentary party styled themselves 
1 The Godly,' while to the Royalists they gave the 
title of ' The Malignants/ it is certain that, wher- 
ever they could procure entrance and allowance for 
these terms, the question upon whose side the right 
lay was already decided. The Royalists, it is true, 
made exactly the same employment of what Ben- 

nullum unquam audivimus imperium, nullam civitatera non mediocrite* 
saltern floruisse, quamdiu linguae sua gratia, suusque cultus constitit 
Compare an interesting Epistle (the 114th) of Seneca. 
•See p. 45- 


tham used to call question-begging words, of words 
steeped quite as deeply in the passions which ani- 
mated them. It was much when at Florence the 
' Bad Boys/ as they defiantly called themselves, were 
able to affix on the followers of Savonarola the title 
of Piagnoni or The Snivellers. So, too, the Fran- 
ciscans, when they nicknamed the Dominicans 
4 Maculists/ as denying, or at all events refusing to 
affirm as a matter of faith, that the Blessed Virgin 
was conceived without stain (sine macula), perfectly 
knew that this title would do much to put their ri- 
vals in an odious light. The copperhead in America 
is a peculiarly venomous snake. Something effect- 
ual was done when this name was fastened, as it 
lately was, by one party in America on its political 
opponents.* Not otherwise, in some of our northern 
towns, the workmen who refuse to join a trade union 
are styled ' knobsticks/ ' crawlers,' ' scabs/ ' black- 
legs.' Nor can there be any question of the potent 
influence which these nicknames of contempt and 
scorn exert. 

Seeing, then, that language contains so faithful a 
record of the good and of the evil which in time past 
have been working in the minds and hearts of men, 
we shall not err, if we regard it as a moral barom- 
eter indicating and permanently marking the rise or 
fall of a nation's life. To study a peoples language 
will be to study them, and to study them at best 
advantage ; there, where they present themselves 
to us under fewest disguises, most nearly as they 

* [See interesting chapter on Political Nicknames in D'Israeli's 
Curiosities of Literature] 


are. Too many have had a hand in the language 
as it now is, and in bringing it to the shape in 
which we find it, it is too entirely the collective 
work of a whole people, the result of the united 
contributions of all, it obeys too immutable laws, to 
allow any successful tampering with it, any making 
of it to witness to any other than the actual facts 
of the case.* 

Thus the frivolity of an age or nation, its mockery 
of itself, its inability to comprehend the true dig- 
nity and meaning of life, the feebleness of its moral 
indignation against evil, all this will find an utter- 
ance in the employment of solemn and earnest 
words in senses comparatively trivial or even ridic- 
ulous. ' Gehenna,' that word of such terrible sig- 
nificance on the lips of our Lord, has in French is- 
sued in ' gene/ and in this shape expresses no more 
than a slight and petty annoyance. ' Ennui ' meant 
once something very different from what now it 
means. Littr6 gives as its original signification, 

* Terrien Poncel, Du Langage, p. 231: Les langues sont faites a 
P usage des peuples qui les par lent; elles sont animees chacune d'un 
esprit different, et suivent un mode particulier d' action, conforme a leur 
principe. * L'esprit d'une nation et le caractere de sa langue,' a ecrit 
G. de Humboldt, ' sont si intimement lies ensemble, que si l'un 6tait 
donn6, l'autre devrait pouvoir s'en decluire exactement.' La langue 
n'est autre chose que la manifestation extlrieure de l'esprit des peuples; 
leur langue est leur esprit, et leur esprit est leur langue, de telle sorte 
qu'en developpant et perfectionnant l'un, ils developpent et perfection- 
nent necessairement l'autre. And a recent German writer has well said, 
Die Sprache, das selbstgewebte Kleid der Vorstellung, in welchem jeder 
Faden wieder eine Vorstellung ist, kann uns, richtig betrachtet, offen- 
baren, welche Vorstellungen die Grundfaden bildeten (Gerber, Die 
Sprache als Kunst). 

IDIOT. 137 

1 anguish of soul, caused by the death of persons 
beloved, by their absence, by the shipwreck of hopes, 
by any misfortunes whatever/ * ' Honnetet6,' which 
should mean that virtue of all virtues, honesty, and 
which did mean it once, standing as it does now for 
external civility and for nothing more, marks a wil- 
lingness to accept the slighter observances and 
pleasant courtesies of society in the room of deeper 
moral qualities. ' V£rit6 ' is at this day so worn 
out, has been used so often where another and very 
different word would have been more appropriate, 
that not seldom a Frenchman at this present who 
would fain convince us of the truth of his commun- 
ication finds it convenient to assure us that it is 
4 la vraie v6rit6.' Neither is it well that words, 
which ought to have been reserved for the highest 
mysteries of the spiritual life, should be squandered 
on slight and secular objects, — ' spirituel ' itself is 
an example in point, — or that words implying once 
the deepest moral guilt, as is the case with ' perfide,' 
'malice/ 'malm,' in French, should be employed 
now almost in honor, applied in jest and in play. 

Often a people's use of some single word will 
afford us a deeper insight into their real condition, 
their habits of thought and feeling than whole vol- 
umes written expressly with the intention of im- 
parting this insight. Thus 'idiot/ a Geeek word, 
is abundantly characteristic of Greek life. The 
4 idiot,' or idiGorrjs, was originally the private man, 
as contradistinguished from one clothed with office, 
and taking his share in the management of public 

* [Ennm is derived from the Late Latin phrase in odio esse.\ 


affairs. In this its primary sense it was often used 
in the English of the seventeenth century ; as when 
Jeremy Taylor says, ' Humility is a duty in great 
ones, as well as in idiots! It came then to signify 
a rude, ignorant, unskilled, intellectually unexer- 
cised person, a boor ; this derived or secondary 
sense bearing witness to a conviction woven deep 
into the Greek mind that contact with public life, 
and more or less of participation in it, was indispens- 
able even to the right development of the intellect,* 
a conviction which would scarcely have uttered it- 
self with greater clearness than it does in this sec- 
ondary use of * idiot.' Our tertiary, in which the 
' idiot ' is one deficient in intellect, not merely with 
intellectual powers unexercised, is only this second- 
ary pushed a little farther. Once more, how won- 
derfully characteristic of the Greek mind it is that 
the language should have one and the same word 
(xaXos), to express the beautiful and the good — 
goodness being thus contemplated as the highest 
beauty ; while over against this stands another word 
(atiGXPo*)* use( * alike for the ugly to look at and for 
the morally bad. Again, the innermost differences 
between the Greek and the Hebrew reveal themselves 
in the several salutations of each, in the ' Rejoice ' of 
the first, as contrasted with the ' Peace ' of the sec- 
ond. The clear, cheerful, world-enjoying temper of 
the Greek embodies itself in the first ; he could de- 
sire nothing better or higher for himself, nor wish 
it for his friend, than to have joy in his life. But the 
Hebrew had a deeper longing within him, and one 

* Hare, Mission of the Comforter, p. 552. 


which finds utterance in his ' Peace/ It is not hard 
to perceive why this latter people should have been 
chosen as the first bearers of that truth which in- 
deed enables truly to rejoice, but only through first 
bringing peace ; nor why from them the word of 
life should first go forth. It may be urged, indeed, 
that these were only forms, and such they may have 
at length become ; as in our ' good-by ' or ' adieu ' 
we can hardly be said now to commit our friend to 
the Divine protection ; yet still they were not forms 
at the beginning, nor would they have held their 
ground, if ever they had become such altogether. 

How much, again, will be sometimes involved in 
the gradual disuse of one name, and the coming up 
of another in its room. Thus, little as the fact, and 
the moral significance of the fact, may have been 
noticed at the time, what an epoch was it in the his- 
tory of the Papacy, and with what distinctness mark- 
ing a more thorough secularizing of its whole tone 
and spirit, when ' Ecclesia Romana,' the official title 
by which it was wont at an earlier day to designate 
itself, gave place to the later title, ' Curia Romana,' 
the Roman Church making room for the Roman 

The modifications of meaning which a word has 
undergone as it had been transplanted from one soil 
to another, so that one nation borrowing it from 
another, has brought into it some force foreign to it 
before, has deepened, or extenuated, or otherwise 
modified its meaning, — this may reveal to us, as 
perhaps nothing else would, fundamental diversities 

* See on this matter The Pope and the Council, by Janus, p. 215. 


of character existing between them. The word in 
Greek exactly corresponding to our ' self-sufficient ' 
is one of honor, and was applied to men in their 
praise. And indeed it was the glory of the heathen 
philosophy to teach man to find his resources in his 
own bosom, to be thus sufficient for himself ; and 
seeing that a true centre without him and above 
him, a centre in God, had not been revealed to him, 
it was no shame for him to seek it there ; far better 
this than to have no centre at all. But the Gospel 
has taught us another lesson, to find our sufficiency 
in God : and thus 4 self-sufficient,' to the Greek sug- 
gesting no lack of modesty, of humility, or of any 
good thing, at once suggests such to us. ' Self- 
sufficiency ' no man desires now to be attributed to 
him. The word carries for us its own condemnation ; 
and its different uses, for honor once, for reproach 
now, do in fact ground themselves on the innermost 
differences between the religious condition of the 
world before Christ and after. 

It was not well with Italy, she might fill the world 
with exquisite specimens of her skill in the arts, with 
pictures and statues of rarest loveliness, but all 
higher national life was wanting to her during those 
centuries in which she degraded ' virtuoso,' or the 
virtuous man, to signify one skilled in the appreci- 
ation of painting, music, and sculpture ; for these, 
the ornamental fringe of a people's life, can never, 
without loss of all manliness of character, be its main 
texture and woof — not to say that excellence in 
them has been too often dissociated from all true 
virtue and moral worth. The opposite exaggeration 


of the Romans, for whom ' virtus ' meant predom- 
inantly warlike courage, the truest ' manliness ' of 
men, was more tolerable than this ; for there is a 
sense in which a man's ' valor ' is his value, is the 
measure of his worth ; seeing that no virtue can ex- 
ist among men who have not learned, in Milton's 
glorious phrase, ' to hate the cowardice of doing 
wrong.'* It could not but be morally ill with a 
people among whom ' morbidezza ' was used as an 
epithet of praise, expressive of a beauty which on 
the score of its sickly softness demanded to be ad- 
mired. There was too sure a witness here for the 
decay of moral strength and health, when these 
could not merely be dissevered from beauty, but im- 
plicitly put in opposition to it. Nor less must it 
have fared ill with Italians, there was little joy and 
little pride which they could have felt in their coun- 
try, at a time when ' pellegrino,' meaning properly 
the strange or the foreign, came to be of itself a 
word of praise, and equivalent to beautiful.t Far 
better the pride and assumption of that ancient 
people who called all things and persons beyond 
their own pale barbarous and barbarians ; far better 
our own « outlandish,' used with something of the 
same contempt. There may be a certain intolerance 
in our use of these ; yet this how much healthier 
than so far to have fallen out of conceit with one's 

* It did not escape Plutarch, imperfect Latin scholar as he was, that 
« virtus ' for more nearly corresponded to drSpeia than to dpertf 
(Coriol. 1). 

t [Compare Florio's ItaL Diet. : % pelegrmo > excellent, noble, rare, 
pregnant, singular and choice.'] 


own country, so far to affect things foreign, that 
these last, merely on the strength of being foreign, 
commend themselves as beautiful in our sight. How 
little, again, the Italians, until quite later years, 
can have lived in the spirit of their ancient worthies, 
or reverenced the most illustrious among these, we 
may argue from the fact that they should have en- 
dured so far to degrade the name of one among their 
noblest, that every glib and loquacious hireling who 
shows strangers about their picture-galleries, pal- 
aces, and ruins, is called a ' cicerone/ or a Cicero ! 
It is unfortunate that terms like these, having once 
sprung up, are not again, or are not easily again, 
got rid of. They remain, testifying to an ignoble 
past, and in some sort helping to maintain it, long 
after the temper and tone of mind that produced 
them has passed away.* 

Happily it is nearly impossible for us in England 
to understand the mingled scorn, hatred, fear, sus- 
picion, contempt, which in time past were associated 
with the word ' sbirri ' in Italian.t These ' sbirri 9 
were the humble, but with all this the acknowl- 
edged, ministers of justice ; while yet everything 
which is mean and false and oppressive, which can 
make the name of justice hateful, was implied in this 
title of theirs, was associated with their name. 
There is no surer sign of a bad oppressive rule, than 

* See on this matter Marsh, On the English Language, New York, 
i860, p. 224. 
t [Compare V. Hugo's allusion to Louis Napoleon in the CMHmentsi 
' Qui pour la mettre en croix livra, 

Sbire cruel ! 
Rome republicaine a Rome catholique ! '] 


when the titles of the administrators of law, titles 
which should be in themselves so honorable, thus 
acquire a hateful undermeaning. What a world of 
concussions, chicane and fraud, must have found 
place, before tax-gatherer, or exciseman, * publican,' 
as in our English Bible, could become a word steep- 
ed in hatred and scorn, as alike for Greek and Jew 
it was ; while on the other hand, however unwel- 
come the visits of the one or the interference of the 
other may be to us, yet the sense of the entire fair- 
ness and justice with which their exactions are 
made, acquits these names for us of the slightest 
sense of dishonor. * Policeman ' has no evil sub- 
audition with us ; though in the last century, when 
a Jonathan Wild was possible, ' catchpole,' a word 
in Wiclif s time of no dishonor at all, was abundant- 
ly tinged with this scorn and contempt. So too, if 
at this day any accidental profits fall or ' escheat ' 
to the Crown, they are levied with so much fairness 
and more than fairness to the subject, that, were 
not the thing already accomplished, ' escheat ' would 
never yield * cheat,' nor * escheator ' * cheater,' as 
through the extortions and injustices for which these 
dues were formerly a pretext, they actually have 

It is worse, as marking that a still holier sanctuary 
than that of civil government has become profane 
in men's sight, when words which express sacred 
functions and offices become redolent of scorn. 
How thankful we may be that in England we have 
no equivalent to the German ' Pfaffe,' which, iden- 
tical with ' papa ' and ' pope,' and a name given at 


first to any priest, now carries with it the insinua- 
tion of almost every unworthiness in the forms of 
meanness, servility, and avarice which can render 
the priest's office and person base and contempt- 

Much may be learned by noting the words which 
nations have been obliged to borrow from other na- 
tions, as not having the same of home-growth — this 
in most cases, if not in all, testifying that the thing 
itself was not native, but an exotic, transplanted* 
like the word that indicated it, from a foreign soil. 
Thus it is singularly characteristic of the social 
and political life of England, as distinguished from 
that of the other European nations, that to it alone 
the word ' club ' belongs ; France and Germany, 
having been alike unable to grow a word of their 
own, have borrowed ours. That England should 
have been the birthplace of * club ' is nothing won- 
derful ; for these voluntary associations of men for 
the furthering of such social or political ends as are 
near to the hearts of the associates could have only 
had their rise under such favorable circumstances 
as ours. In no country where there was not ex- 
treme personal freedom could they have sprung up ; 
and as little in any where men did not know how 
to use this freedom with moderation and self-re- 
straint, could they long have been endured. It was 
comparatively easy to adopt the word; but the ill 
success of the ' club ' itself everywhere save here 
where it is native, has shown that it was not so easy 
to transplant or, having transplanted, to acclimatize 
the thing. While we have lent this and other 


words, political and industrial for the most part, tc 
the French and Germans, it would not be less in- 
structive, if time allowed, to trace our corresponding 
obligations to them. 

And scarcely less significant and instructive than 
the presence of a word in a language, will be 
occasionally its absence. Thus Fronto, a Greek 
orator in Roman times, finds evidence of an absence 
of strong family affection on the part of the Romans 
in the absence of any word in the Latin language 
corresponding to the Greek <pi\o<rropyos. How 
curious, from the same point of view, are the con- 
clusions which Cicero in his high Roman fashion 
draws from the absence of any word in the Greek 
answering to the Latin ' ineptus * ; not from this 
concluding, as we might have anticipated, that the 
character designated by the word was wanting, but 
rather that the fault was so common, so universal 
with the Greeks, that they failed to recognize it as 
a fault at all * Very instructive you may find it to 
note these words, which one people possess, but to 
which others have nothing to correspond, so that 
they have no choice but to borrow these, or else to 

* De Orat. ii. 4: Quern enim nos ifuptum vocamus is mihi videtur 
ab hoc nomen habere ductum, quod non sit aptus. Idque in sermonis 
nostri consuetudine perlate patet. Nam qui aut tempus quid postulet, 
non videt, aut plura loquitur, aut se ostentat, aut eorura quibuscum est 
vel dignitatis vel commodi rationem non habet, aut denique in aliquo 
genere aut inconcinnus aut multus est, is ineptus esse dicitur. Hoc 
vitio cumulata est eruditissima ilia Graecorum natio. Itaque quod vim 
hujus mali Graeci non vident, ne nomen quidem ei vitio imposuerunt. 
Ut enim quseras omnia, quomodo Graeci ineptum appellent, non in- 


go without altogether. Here are some French 
words for which it would not be easy, nay, in most 
cases it would be impossible, to find exact equiva- 
lents in English or in German, or probably in any 
language : ' aplomb/ ' badinage, ' ' born£,' ' chic, 
'chicane,' 'cossu,' 'coterie/ ' igaremeut,' ' £lan, 
1 espi&glerie/ ' 6tourderie/ ' friponnerie/ ' gentil,' 
' ingenue/ ' liaison/ * malice/ ' parvenu/ ' persiflage, 
' pr£venant/ ' ruse/ ' tournure/ ' tracasserie/ ' verve. 
It is evident that the words just named have to 
do with shades of thought which are to a great ex- 
tent unfamiliar to us ; for which, at any rate, we 
have not found a name, have hardly felt that they 
needed one. But fine and subtle as in many in- 
stances are the thoughts which these words em- 
body, there are deeper thoughts struggling in the 
bosom of a people, who have devised for themselves 
such words as the following : ' gemuth/ ' heimweh/ 
4 innigkeit/ ' sehnsucht/ ' tiefsinn/ ' sittsamkeit/ 
4 verhangniss/ ' weltschmerz/ ' zucht ' ; all these 
being German words which, in a similar manner, 
partially or wholly fail to find their equivalents in 

The petty spite which unhappily so often reigns 
between nations dwelling side by side with one 
another, as it embodies itself in many shapes, so it 
finds vent in the words which they borrow from one 
another, and the use to which they put them. 
Thus the French, borrowing ' hablar ' from the 
Spaniards, with whom it means simply to speak, 
give it in ' hSLbler ' the sense of to brag; the Span- 
iards paying them off in exactly their own coin, for 


of l parler/ which in like manner is but to speak in 
French, they make ' parlar,' which means to prate, 
to chat.* 

But it is time to bring this lecture to an end. 
These illustrations, to which it would be easy to 
add more, justify all that has been asserted of a 
moral element existing in words ; so that they do 
not hold themselves neutral in that great conflict 
between good and evil, light and darkness, which is 
dividing the world ; that they are not satisfied to be 
passionless vehicles, now of the truth, and now of 
lies. We see, on the contrary, that they continu- 
ally take their side, are some of them children of 
light, others children of this world, or even of dark- 
ness ; they beat with the pulses of our life ; they 
stir with our passions ; we clothe them with light ; 
we steep them in scorn ; they receive from us the 
impressions of our good and of our evil, which again 
they are most active still further to propagate and 
diffuse.t Must we not own then that there is a 
wondrous and mysterious world, of which we may 

* [See Darmesteter, The Life of Words % Eng; ed. p. 100.] 
f Two or three examples of what we have been affirming, drawn 
from the Latin, may fitly here find place. Thus Cicero (Tuse. iii. 7) 
laments of ' confidens ' that it should have acquired an evil significa- 
tion, and come to mean bold, over-confident in oneself unduly pushing 
(compare Virgil, Georg. iv. 444), a meaning which little by little had 
been superinduced on the word, but etymologically was not inherent in 
it at all. In the same way * latro,' having left two earlier meanings be- 
hind, one of these current so late as in "Virgil (Mn. xii. 7), settles down 
at last in the meaning of robber. Not otherwise « facinus* begins with 
being simply a fact or act, something done; but ends with being some 
act of outrageous wickedness. « Pronuba ' starts with meaning a brides- 
maid; it ignobly ends with suggesting a procuress. 


hitherto have taken too little account, around us 
and about us ? Is there not something very solemn 
and very awful in wielding such an instrument as 
this of language is, with such power to wound or to 
heal, to kill or to make alive ? and may not a deeper 
meaning than hitherto we have attached to it, lie in 
that saying, ' By thy words thou shalt be justified, 
and by thy words thou shalt be condemned ' ? 




I. Proof of man's divine origin in language. 

II. Proof of man's fall in language. 

Examples — 

i. "Ah" and "Alas." 

2. "Affliction." 

3. "Agony." 

4. "Anguish." 

5. " Assassin." 

6. "Atheist." 

7. "Avarice." 

8. St. Paul's use of words. 

III. Records of sin in language. 

1. Words expressive of pleasure in calamity. 

2. "Abbacinare." 

3. " dxpa>T7)pia{iiP," 

4. "Toganch." 

5. Sinful oral tradition. 


1. "Knave." 

2. " Villain." 

3. "Boor.* 

4. "Varlet." 

5. " Menial." 

6. " Paramour ." 



" Minion." 


" Pedant." 


" Proser." 


" Adventurer." 






" Time-server." 


" Conceits." 


" Officious." 


" Demure." 








"God's wench." 


" Crafty." 








" Leichtsinnig." 


" Rapporteur. " 


" Magdalen." 








" Dapper." 


" Plausible." 


" Pert." 




"To carp." 


"To resent." 




" Animosity. * 


"Prejudice," eta 



i. "Humility." 

2. " Angels." 

3. "Martyrs." 

4. "Apostles." 

5. "Evangels." 

6. "Advocates." 

7. " Paradise." 

8. "Regeneration." 

9. " Sacrament." 
10. " Mystery." 


I. Attestations to God's truth. 

1. "Pain." 

2. " Plague." 

3. " Voxpopuli, vox Dei? 

4. "Miser." 

II. Testimony to great moral truths. 

1. " Integritas." 

2. " irovripia" 

III. Witness to failings of the human heart. 

1. " Assentator." 

2. " Jaherr." 


I. Words which convey moral instruction. 

1. "Blackener." 

2. "Libertine." 


3. "Passion." 

4. " Humanitas." 

5. "Talents." 

6. " Oblige." 

7. " Virtue." 

8. "Kind." 

II. Words which imply moral perversity. 

1. "Prude." 

2. "Simple." 

3. "Silly." 

4. "Sheepish." 

5. "Christus." 

6. " Bonhomie." * 

7. " ivrfBeia." 

8. "Sedakat." 

9. "Simplex." 

III. Words which reveal man's faith in chance. 

1. "Happy." 

2. " Fortunate." 

3. " Unfortunate." 

4. " €vbaifiopia" 

IV. Words which reveal wrong views of duty. 

1. " Hands." 

2. " Souls." 

3. " Sw/xara." 


I. Honorable names for dishonorable things. 

1. Reading of St. James iii. 7. u The tongue." 

2. " The imposture of words." 

II. Words which palliate or conceal sin. 

1. "Removal." 

2. " Tight," " primed," or " crank." 

3. "Aiutata." 

4. " Poudre de succession." 

5. " Short pig," and " long pig." 

6. " Chevalier d'industrie." 


III. Words which throw a veil of sentiment oyer 


1. " Love-child." 

2. " Purveyors." 

3. " Brethren of the Coast" 

4. "St. Nicholas' clerks." 

5. "Michers." 

6. "Nuthooks." 

7. "Conveying." 

8. " Head-money." 

9. " Palm oil." 
«o. " Pot de vin." 

11. "Fils dejoie." 

12. " Conciliatrix." 

IV, Ugly words for ugly things. 

1. "Sharper." 

2. "Blackleg." 

V. Falsehood in names. 

1. "Eaude vie." 

2. " British water." 

VI. Question-begging words. 

1. "Godly." 

2. " Malignants." 

3. "Maculists." 

4. "Copperheads." 

5. "Knobsticks." 

6. "Crawlers." 

7. "Scabs." 

8. "Blacklegs." 



I. Language shows the frivolity of an age or 


t. " Gene " for " gehenna." 

2. "Ennui." 

3. "Honn6tete\" 

4. "V6rit6." 

5. "Spirituel." 

6. " Perfide," " malice," and " malin." 


II. Language shows a nation's habits of thought 


1. " Idiot, Kakos, alcrxpos" 

2. "Rejoice." 

3. "Peace." 

4. "Good-by" or "adieu." 

III. Disuse and displacement of names. 

1. Ecclesia Romana. 

2. Curia. 

IV. Language shows fundamental differences be- 

tween nations. 

1. "Self-sufficient." 

2. "Virtuoso." 

3. " Virtus" and "valor." 

4. " Morbidezza" 

5. " Pellegrino " and "outlandish." 

6. "Cicerone." 

I. Civil Morals. 

1. Oppression: "sbirri." 

2. Fraud : " publican." 

3. Abuse of authority : " catchpole. w 

4. Extortion : 

(a.) " escheat," " cheat." 
(b.) " escheator," " cheater." 

II. Religious morals : " Pfaffe." 

III. Morals of national borrowings. 

1. "Club." - 

*. "Hablador." 
3. "Parlador." 

IV. Moral of the want of a word : " iNEPTUS. n 

V. Moral of the lecture. 

1. Words are not neutral. 

2. They are instinct with our life. 

3. They justify or condemn us. 


On the Morality in Words. 

In what three ways does language prove that man is of a di- 
vine birth ? 

How does language prove that he has fallen ? 

What relation do wickedness and woe bear to the words 
which designate them ? 

How are these things regarded by some ? 

Is the proof all scriptural ? 

What does an examination of the dictionary show ? 

What words are quoted ? 

Give other illustrations. 

What is said of the relative abundance of good and bad 
words ? 

Give the scriptural proofs. 

How have the utmost resources of language been taxed ? 

What is said of words which express pleasure at the calami- 
ties of others ? 

Give illustrations of this. 

What is said of sinful oral traditions ? 

How do such words set forth evil ? 

What is necessary before language possesses such words ? 

What is said of the deterioration of words ? 

Give examples, with the derivation and history of each, as 
far as they can be learned. 

How has the verb " to resent" changed in meaning ? 


Why do we not speak of the " retaliation " of injuries ? 

Describe the changes in the word " animosity." 

What is the word " prejudice " a witness for ? 

What does the verb " to retract " bear testimony to ? 

What instance of its old use is given ? 

What has been the influence of Divine faith on words ? 

How was the Greek word for " humility " elevated ? 

Give other similar examples, with the derivation of each. 

How has the Holy Spirit employed heathen words ? Give 

What are the true uses of words ? 

What would modern " false prophets " have us believe ? 

What does a deeper feeling in the heart of man bear witness 

What does the word " pain " prove ? 

What use is made of the word " plague " ? Of the proverb, 
" Vox populi, vox Dei" ? 

What moral testimony do we find in the word " miser " ? 

What charge is made against St. James ? How did the Ro- 
mans say as much ? How do we use " integrity " ? Quote 
Mark vi. 20. 

What is said of the Greek word signifying wickedness? 
Who are quoted in this connection ? 

Give an example of a word giving an insight into the failings 
of the heart. 

What was the old use of" assentation " ? 

Give an example of a word used to check the spirit of depre- 

What has been the history of the word " libertine " ? Give 
its derivation. 

What do we learn from the word " passion " ? " Impo- 

What is " humanitas " used to designate? 

What question divides Englishmen ? 

How is " humanitas " appealed to ? 

How is our word "talents" used? Give its derivation. 
What does it prove ? 


What moral truth do we find in " oblige " and " obligation " ? 

How is South quoted ? 

How is the habit of calling a woman's chastity her " virtue " 
significant ? 

What is witnessed in the word " kind " ? " mankind' 1 ? 

What does " prude " illustrate ? Account for its present use. 

What do we learn from "simple" and "innocent"? 
"schlecht"? "albern"? 

Give the history of "silly" "sheepish," "Christus." "bon- 
homie," " kvrflBia" " sedakat," " simplex." 

What does " happy " prove ? 

What is illustrated by " hands " and " souls" ? " re/iara" ? 

How do words work their worst mischief? 

What is said of the reading of St. James iii. 7 ? 

What is said of fair words for ugly things ? 

What of the imposture of words ? 

Give examples of words which conceal sin among civilized 

What does Captain Erskine testify ? 

What does " love-child " illustrate ? 

By what names are thieves called in Shakespeare ? 

How is " head-money " used ? " palm-oil " ? " pot de vin " ? 

What kind of names are " whited sepulchres " ? 

Give examples of better moral words. 

Give instances of falsehood in words. 

What is said of question-begging words ? Give examples. 

How is language a moral barometer ? 

Mention words which testify to the frivolity of an age or nation. 

How do words give us an insight of a people's habits of 
thought and feeling ? 

Give the history of " idiot." 

What do the " rejoice" of the Greeks and the " peace" of 
the Hebrews show ? 

Give an example of the gradual disuse of a name. 

What is illustrated by the word in Greek for " self-suf- 
ficient " ? 

What do we learn from " virtuoso " and " virtus " ? " mor- 



bidezza " ? " pellegrino " ? " cicerone " ? " sbirri " ? " publi- 
can"? "catchpole"? "escheat"? "pfaffe"? 

What is said of transplanted words ? Illustrate by " club." 

What is said of the absence of a word from a language? 
Give an example. 

How do words embody national spites ? Give examples. 

What is the moral of the lecture ? 


On the Morality in Words. 

1. Askance. 

2. Autograph. 

3. Blackguard. 

4. Compassion. 

5. Eucharist 

6. Fulsome. 

7. Gaudy. 

8. Gentleman. 

9. Gushing. 

10. Hale, 

11. Harangue. 

12. Harbinger. 

13. Heresy. 

14. Hoax. 

15. Hobby. 

16. Humbug. 

17. Hypocrisy. 

18. Imp. 

19. Inert. 

20. Jade. 

21. Jealous. 

22. Jeopardy. 

23. Jesuitical. 

24. Lackey. 

25. Lady. 

26. Lampoon. 

27. Leer. 

28. Libel 

29. Lyceum. 

30. Massacre. 

31. Minister. 

32. Monster. 

33. Moody. 

34. Obsequious. 

35. Ostracism. 

36. Pragmatic. 

37. Revolution. 

38. Sad. 

39. Satan. 

40. Scandal. 

41. Shrew. 

42. Traitor. 

43. Whiskey. 

44. Zealot 



LANGUAGE, being ever in flux and flow, and, 
for nations to which letters are still strange, 
existing only for the ear and as a sound, we might 
beforehand expect would prove the least trust- 
worthy of all vehicles whereby the knowledge of the 
past has reached our present ; that one which would 
most certainly betray its charge. In actual fact it 
has not proved so at all. It is the main, oftentimes 
the only, connecting link between the two, an ark 
riding above the waterfloods that have swept away 
or submerged every other landmark and memorial 
of bygone ages and vanished generations of men. 
Far beyond all written records in a language, the 
language itself stretches back, and offers itself for 
our investigation — ' the pedigree of nations/ as 
Johnson calls it* — itself in its own independent 
existence a far older and at the same time a far 
more instructive document than any book, inscrip- 

* This statement of his must be taken with a certain amount of quali- 
fication. It is not always that races are true to the end to their lan- 
guage; external forces are sometimes too strong. Thus Celtic disap- 
peared before Latin in Gaul and Spain. Slavonic became extinct in 
Prussia two centuries ago, German taking its room; the negroes of 
Hayti speak French, and various American tribes have exchanged their 
own idioms for Spanish and Portuguese. See upon this matter Sayce's 
Principles of Comparative Philology, pp. 175-181, 



tion, or other writing which employs it. The writ- 
ten records may have been falsified by carelessness, 
by vanity, by fraud, by a multitude of causes ; but 
language never deceives, if only we know how to 
question it aright. 

Such investigations as these, it is true, lie plainly 
out of your sphere. Not so, however, those hum- 
bler yet not less interesting inquiries, which by the 
aid of any tolerable dictionary you may carry on 
into the past history of your own land, as attested 
by the present language of its people. You know 
how the geologist is able from the different strata 
and deposits, primary, secondary, or tertiary, suc- 
ceeding one another, which he meets, to arrive at 
a knowledge of the successive physical changes 
through which a region has passed ; is, so to say, 
in a condition to preside at those past changes, to 
measure the forces that were at work to produce 
them, and almost to indicate their date. Now with 
such a language as the English before us, bearing 
as it does the marks and footprints of great revolu- 
tions profoundly impressed upon it, we may carry 
on moral and historical researches precisely analo- 
gous to his. Here too are strata and deposits, not 
of gravel and chalk, sandstone and limestone, but 
of Celtic, Latin, Low German, Danish, Norman 
words, and then once more Latin and French, with 
slighter intrusions from many other quarters : and 
any one with skill to analyze the language might, 
up to a certain point, re-create for himself the his- 
tory of the people speaking that language, might 
with tolerable accuracy appreciate the divers ele- 


ments out of which that people was made up, in 
what proportion these were mingled, and in what 
succession they followed, one upon the other. 

Would he trace, for example, the relation in 
which the English and Norman occupants of this 
land stood to one another ? An account of this, in 
the main as accurate as it would be certainly in- 
structive, might be drawn from an intelligent study 
of the contributions which they have severally made 
to the English language, as bequeathed to us jointly 
by them both. Supposing all other records to have 
perished, we might still work out and almost recon- 
struct the history by these aids ; even as now, when 
so many documents, so many institutions survive, 
this must still be accounted the most important, 
and that of which the study will introduce us as no 
other can, into the innermost heart and life of large 
periods of our history. 

Nor, indeed, is it hard to see why the language 
must contain such instruction as this, when we a 
little realize to ourselves the stages by which it has 
reached us in its present shape. There was a time 
when the languages which the English and the 
Norman severally spoke, existed each by the side 
of, but unmingled with, the other ; one, that of the 
small dominant class, the other that of the great 
body of the people. By degrees, however, with the 
reconciliation and partial fusion of the two races, 
the two languages effected a transaction ; one in- 
deed prevailed over the other, but at the same time 
received a multitude of the words of that other into 
its own bosom. At once there would exist dupli- 


cates for many things. But as in popular speech 
two words will not long exist side by side to desig- 
nate the same thing, it became a question how 
the relative claims of the English and Norman 
word should adjust themselves, which should re- 
main, which should be dropped ; or, if not dropped, 
should be transferred to some other object, or ex- 
press some other relation. It is not of course meant 
that this was ever formally proposed, or as some- 
thing to be settled by agreement ; but practically 
one was to be taken and one left. Which was it 
that should maintain its ground ? Evidently, where 
a word was often on the lips of one race, its equiva-* 
lent seldom on those of the other, where it inti- 
mately cohered with the whole manner of life of one, 
was only remotely in contact with that of the 
other, where it laid strong hold on one, and only 
slight on the other, the issue could not be doubtful. 
In several cases the matter was simpler still : it was 
not that one word expelled the other, or that 
rival claims had to be adjusted ; but that there 
never had existed more than one word, the thing 
which that word noted having been quite strange 
to the other section of the nation. 

Here is the explanation of the assertion made just 
now — namely, that we might almost reconstruct 
our history, so far as it turns upon the Norman 
Conquest, by an analysis of our present language, a 
mustering of its words in groups, and a close obser- 
vation of the nature and character of those which 
the two races have severally contributed to it. 
Thus we should confidently conclude that the 


Norman was the ruling race, from the noticeable fact 
that all the words of dignity, state, honor, and pre- 
eminence, with one remarkable exception (to be 
adduced presently), descend to us from them — 
' sovereign/ ' sceptre/ ' throne/ ' realm/ ' royalty/ 
* homage/ ' prince/ ' duke/ ' count/ (' earl* indeed is 
Scandinavian, though he must borrow his ' countess ' 
from the Norman), ' chancellor/ ' treasurer/ ' palace/ 
'castle/ 'dome/ and a multitude more. At the 
same time the one remarkable exception of ' king ' 
would make us, even did we know nothing of the 
actual facts, suspect that the chieftain of this 
ruling race came in not upon a new title, not as 
overthrowing a former dynasty, but claiming to be 
in the rightful line of its succession ; that the true 
continuity of the nation had not, in fact any more 
than in word, been entirely broken, but survived, in 
due time to assert itself anew. 

And yet, while the statelier superstructure of 
the language, almost all articles of luxury, all 
having to do with the chase, with chivalry, with 
personal adornment, are Norman throughout; with 
the broad basis of the language, and therefore of 
the life, it is otherwise. The great features of 
nature, sun, moon, and stars, earth, water, and 
fire ; the divisions of time ; three out of the four 
seasons, spring, summer, and winter ; the features 
of natural scenery, the words used in earliest child- 
hood, the simpler emotions of the mind ; all the 
prime social relations, father, mother, husband,* 
wife, son, daughter, brother, sister, — these are of 
native growth and unborrowed. ' Palace ' and 


' castle * may have reached us from the Norman, but 
to the Saxon we owe far dearer names, the * house/ 
the ' roof/ the ' home/ the ' hearth/ His ' board ' 
too, and often probably it was no more, has a more 
hospitable sound than the ' table ' of his lord. His 
sturdy arms turn the soil ; he is the ' boor,' the 
1 hind/ the ' churl ' ; or if his Norman master has a 
name for him, it is one which on his lips becomes 
more and more a title of opprobrium and contempt, 
the ' villain/ The instruments used in cultivating 
the earth, the ' plough/ the ' share/ the ' rake/ the 
' scythe/ the ' harrow/ the ' wain/ the ' sickle/ the 
' spade/ the 'sheaf/ the ' barn, are expressed in his 
language; so too the main products of the earth, 
as wheat, rye, oats, bere, grass, flax, hay, straw, 
weeds ; and no less the names of domestic animals. 
You will remember, no doubt, how in the matter 
of these Wamba, the Saxon jester in Ivanhoe, plays 
the philologer,* having noted that the names of al- 
most all animals, so long as they are alive, are 
Saxon, but when dressed and prepared for food be- 
come Norman — a fact, he would intimate, not very 
wonderful ; for the Saxon hind had the charge and 
labor of tending and feeding them, but only that 
they might appear on the table of his Norman lord. 
Thus ' ox/ ' steer/ ' cow/ are Saxon, but ' beef/ 
Norman; 'calf' is Saxon, but 'veal* Norman; 
' sheep ' is Saxon, but ' mutton ' Norman ; so it is 
severally with ' swine ' and ' pork/ ' deer/ and 
4 venison/ * fowl ' and ' pullet/ ' Bacon/ the only 
flesh which perhaps ever came within the hind's 
* Wallis, in his Grammar, p. 20, had done so before. 


reach, is the single exception. Putting all this to- 
gether, with much more of the same kind, which 
has only been indicated here, we should certainly 
gather, that while there are manifest tokens pre- 
served in our language of the Saxon having been 
for a season an inferior and even an oppressed race, 
the stable elements of English life, however over- 
laid for a while, had still made good their claim to 
be the solid groundwork of the after nation as of 
the after language ; and to the justice of this con- 
clusion all other historic records, and the present 
social condition of England, consent in bearing 

Then again, who could doubt, even if the fact 
were not historically attested, that the Arabs were 
the arithmeticians, the astronomers, the chemists, 
the merchants of the Middle Ages, when he had 
once noted that from them we have gotten these 
words and so many others like them — ' alchemy,' 
1 alcohol,' ' alembic,' ' algebra,' ' alkali,' ' almanack,' 
1 azimuth,' 'cypher,' ' elixir,' ' magazine,' ' nadir,' 
'tariff,' ' zenith,' ' zero ' ? — for if one or two of these 
were originally Greek, they reached us through the 
Arabic, and with tokens of their transit cleaving to 
them. In like manner, even though history were 
silent on the matter, we might conclude, and we 
know that we should rightly conclude, that the 
origins of the monastic system are to be sought in 
the Greek and not in the Latin branch of the 
Church, seeing that with hardly an exception the 
words expressing the constituent elements of the 
system, as * anchorite,' ' archimandrite,' * ascetic,' 


1 cenobite/ ' hermit/ 'monastery/ * monk/ are Greek 
and not Latin. 

But the study of words will throw rays of light 
upon a past infinitely more remote than any which 
I have suggested here, will reveal to us secrets of 
the past, which else must have been lost to us for 
ever. Thus it must be a question of profound in- 
terest for as many as count the study of man to be 
far above every other study, to ascertain what 
point of culture that Indo-European race of which 
we come, the stirps generosa et historica of the 
world, as Coleridge has called it, had attained, 
while it was dwelling still as one family in its com- 
mon home. No voices of history, the very faintest 
voices of tradition, reach us from ages so far re- 
moved from our own. But in the silence of all 
other voices there is one voice which makes itself 
heard, and which can tell us much. Where Indian, 
and Greek, and Latin, and Teutonic designate some 
object by the same word, and where it can be 
clearly shown that they did not, at a later day, 
borrow that word one from the other, the object, 
we may confidently conclude, must have been 
familiar to the Indo-European race, while yet these 
several groups of it dwelt as one undivided family 
together. Now they have such common words for 
the chief domestic animals — for ox, for sheep, for 
horse, for dog, for goose, and for many more. 
From this we have a right to gather that before 
the migrations began, they had overlived and out- 
grown the fishing and hunting stages of existence, 
and entered on the pastoral. They have not all 


the same words for the main products of the earth, 
as for corn, wheat, barley, wine ; it is tolerably 
evident therefore that they had not entered on 
the agricultural stage. So too from the absence 
of names in common for the principal metals, we 
have a right to argue that they had not arrived 
at a knowledge of the working of these. 

On the other hand, identical names for dress, for 
house, for door, for garden, for numbers as far as a 
hundred, for the primary relations of the family, as 
father, mother, brother, sister, son, daughter, for 
the Godhead, testify that the common stock, intel- 
lectual and moral, was not small which they sever- 
ally took with them when they went their way, each 
to set up for itself and work out its own destinies in 
its own appointed region of the earth.* This com- 
mon stock may, indeed, have been much larger than 
these investigations declare ; for a word, once com- 
mon to all these languages, may have survived only 
in one ; or possibly may have perished in all. Lar- 
ger it may very well, but poorer it cannot, have 

* See Brugman, Grundriss der vergleichendm Gratnmatik der indo- 
germanischen Sprachen (1886), § 2. 

f Ozanam (Ztt Germains avant U Christianistne, p. 155): Dans le 
yocabulaire d'une langue on a tout le spectacle d'une civilisation. On 
y voit ce qu'un peuple sait des choses invisibles, si les notions de Dieu, 
de l'ame, du devoir, sont assez pures chez lui pour ne souftrir que des 
termes exacts. On mesure la puissance de ses institutions par le nombre 
et la proprtete' des termes qu'elles veulent pour leur service; la liturgie a 
ses paroles sacramentelles, la procedure a ses formules. Enfin, si ce 
peuple a 6tudi£ la nature, il faut voir a quel point il en a penetrg les 
secrets, par quelle varilte* depressions, par quels sons flatteurs ou 
energiques, il a cherche" a dccrire les divers aspects du ciel et de la terre, 


This is one way in which words, by their presence 
or their absence, may teach us history which else 
we now can never know. I pass to other ways. 

There are vast harvests of historic lore garnered 
often in single words ; important facts which they 
at once proclaim and preserve ; these too such 
as sometimes have survived nowhere else but in 
them. How much history lies in the word ' church.' 
I see no sufficient reason to dissent from those who 
derive it from the Greek xvpiaxrf, ' that which per- 
tains to the Lord/ or ' the house which is the 
Lord's.' It is true that a difficulty meets us at the 
threshold here. How explain the presence of a 
Greek word in the vocabulary of our Teutonic fore- 
fathers ? for that we do not derive it immediately 
from the Greek, is certain. What contact, direct 
or indirect, between the languages will account for 
this ? The explanation is curious. While Angles, 
Saxons, and other tribes of the Teutonic stock were 
almost universally converted through contact with 
the Latin Church in the western provinces of the 
Roman Empire, or by its missionaries, some Goths 
on the Lower Danube had been brought at an earlier 
date to the knowledge of Christ by Greek mission- 
aries from Constantinople ; and this Kvpiaxrf, or 
4 church/ did, with certain other words, pass over 
from the Greek to the Gothic tongue ; these Goths, 
the first converted and the first therefore with a 
Christian vocabulary, lending the word in their turn 
to the other German tribes, to our Anglo-Saxon 

& faire, pour ainsi dire, l'inventatre des richesses temporelles dont il dia. 


forefathers among the rest ; and by this circuit it 
has come round from Constantinople to us.* 

Or again, interrogate * pagan ' and ' paganism,' 
and you will find important history in them. You 
are aware that * pagani/ derived from ' pagus/ a 
village, had at first no religious significance, but 
designated the dwellers in hamlets and villages as 
distinguished from the inhabitants of towns and 
cities. It was, indeed, often applied to all civilians 
as contradistinguished from the military caste ; and 
this fact may have had a certain influence, when the 
idea of the faithful as soldiers of Christ was strongly 
realized in the minds of men. But it was mainly in 
the following way that it grew to be a name for 
those alien from the faith of Christ. The Church 
fixed itself first in the seats and centres of intelli- 
gence, in the towns and cities of the Roman Em- 
pire ; in them its earliest triumphs were won ; while, 
long after these had accepted the truth, heathen 
superstitions and idolatries lingered on in the ob- 
scure hamlets and villages ; so that ' pagans/ or vil- 

* The passage most illustrative of the parentage of the word is from 
Walafrid Strabo (about A.D. 840): Ab ipsis autem Grsecis Kyrch a 
Kyrios, et alia multa accepimus. Sicut domus Dei Basilica, i.e. Regia 
a Rege, sic etiam Kyrica, i.e. Dominica a Domino, nuncupatur. Si 
autem quaeritur, qua occasione ad nos vestigia hsec graecitatis advener- 
int, dicendum praecipud a Gothis, qui et Getae, cum eo tempore, quo ad 
fidem Christi perducti sunt, in Grsecorum provinciis commorantes, nos- 
trum, ie. theotiscum sermonem habuerint Cf. Rudolf von Raumer, 
Eitrwirkung des Christ tnt hums auf die Althochdeutsche Sprache, p. 288; 
Niedner, Kirch. Geschichte, p. 2. [It may, however, be as well to re- 
mark that no trace of the Greek xvpiaxTJ occurs in the literary remains 
of the Gothic language which have come down to us; the Gothic 
Christians borrowed ixx\T}6ia t as the Lat n and Celtic Christians did.] 


lages, came to be applied to all the remaining vota- 
ries of the old and decayed superstitions, although 
not all, but only most of them, were such. In an 
edict of the Emperor Valentinian, of date a.d. 368, 
4 pagan ' first assumes this secondary meaning. 
1 Heathen ' has run a course curiously similar. When 
the Christian faith first found its way into Germany, 
it was the wild dwellers on the heaths who were the 
slowest to accept it, the last probably whom it 
reached. One hardly expects an etymology in 
Piers Plowman ; but this is there : 

' Hethene is to mene after heth, 
And untiled erthe.' 
B. 15, 451, Skeat's ed. (Clarendon Press). 

Here, then, are two instructive notices — one, the 
historic fact that the Church of Christ planted it- 
self first in the haunts of learning and intelligence ; 
another, morally more significant, that it did not 
shun discussion, feared not to encounter the wit and 
wisdom of this world, or to expose its claims to the 
searching examination of educated men ; but, on 
the contrary, had its claims first recognized by 
them, and in the great cities of the world won first 
a complete triumph over all opposing powers * 

I quoted in my first lecture the saying of one 
who, magnifying the advantage to be derived from 
such studies as ours, did not fear to affirm that 
oftentimes more might be learned from the history 

• There is a good note on « pagan ' in Gibbon's Decline and Fall, c. 
21, at the end; and in Grimm's Deutsche My t hoi, p. 1 198; and the his- 
tory of the changes in the word's use is well traced in another interest 
by Mill, Logic, vol. ii. p. 271. 


of a word than from the history of a campaign. 
Thus follow some Latin word, 'imperator' for 
example ; as Dean Merivale has followed it in 
his History of the Romans? and you will own as 
much. But there is no need to look abroad. 
Words of our own out of number, such as ' barbar- 
ous,' ' benefice/ ' clerk/ ' common-sense/ ' ro- 
mance/ 'sacrament/ ' sophist/ 1 would prove the 
truth of the assertion. Let us take * sacrament ' ; 
its history, while it carries us far, will yet carry us 
by ways full of instruction ; and these not the less 
instructive, while we restrict our inquiries to the 
external history of the word. We find ourselves 
first among the forms of Roman law. The ' sacra- 
mentum ' appears there as the deposit or pledge, 
which in certain suits plaintiff and defendant were 
alike bound to make, and whereby they engaged 
themselves to one another ; the loser of the suit 
forfeiting his pledge to sacred temple uses, from 
which fact the name ' sacramentum/ or thing con- 
secrated, was first derived. The word, as next 
employed, plants us amidst the military affairs of 
Rome, designating the military oath by which the 
Roman soldiers mutually engaged themselves at 
the first enlisting never to desert their standards, 
or turn their backs upon the enemy, or abandon 
their general,— this employment teaching us the 
sacredness which the Romans attached to their mil- 
itary engagements, and going far to account for 

* Vol. iii. pp. 441-45 2 - 

t For a history of « sophist ' see Sir Alexander Grant's Ethics of 
Aristotle, 2nd ed. vol. i. p. 106, sqq. 


their victories. The word was then transferred from 
this military oath to any solemn oath whatsoever. 
These three stages ' sacramentum ' had already 
passed through, before the Church claimed it for 
her own, or indeed herself existed at all. Her 
early writers, out of a sense of the sacredness and 
solemnity of the oath, transferred this name to al- 
most any act of special solemnity or sanctity, 
above all to such mysteries as intended more 
than met eye or ear. For them the Incarnation 
was a ' sacrament/ the lifting up of the brazen ser- 
pent was a ' sacrament/ the giving of the manna, 
and many things more. It is well to be acquainted 
with this phase of the word's history, depriving as 
it does of all convincing power those passages 
quoted by Roman Catholic controversialists from 
early church- writers in proof of their seven sacra- 
ments. It is quite true that these may have called 
marriage a ' sacrament/ and confirmation a ' sacra- 
ment/ and we may reach the Roman seven without 
difficulty; but then they called many things more, 
which even the theologians of Rome do not include 
in the ' sacraments ' properly so called, by the same 
name ; and this evidence, proving too much, in 
fact proves nothing at all. One other stage in the 
word's history remains ; its limitation, namely, to 
the two 'sacraments/ properly so called, of the 
Christian Church. A reminiscence of the employ- 
ment of ' sacrament/ an employment which still 
survived, to signify the plighted troth of the Roman 
soldier to his captain and commander, was that 
which had most to do with the transfer of the word 

FRANK. 173 

to Baptism ; wherein we with more than one allu- 
sion to this oath of theirs, pledge ourselves to 
fight manfully under Christ's banner, and to con- 
tinue his faithful soldiers and servants to our life's 
end ; while the mysterious character of the Holy 
Eucharist was mainly that which earned for it this 

We have already found history imbedded in the 
word ' frank ' ; but I must bring forward the Franks 
again to account for the fact with which we are all 
familiar, that in the East not Frenchmen alone, but 
all Europeans, are so called. Why, it may be asked, 
should this be ? This wide use of ' Frank ' dates 
from the Crusades ; Michaud the chief French his- 
torian of these, finding evidence here that his 
countrymen took a decided lead, as their gallantry 
well fitted them to do, in these romantic enter- 
prises of the Middle Ages; impressed themselves 
so strongly on the imagination of the East as the cru- 
sading nation of Europe, that their name was ex- 
tended to all the warriors of Christendom. He is 
not here snatching for them more than the honor 
which is justly theirs. A very large proportion of 
the noblest Crusaders, from Godfrey of Bouillon to 
St. Lewis, as of others who did most to bring these 
enterprises about, as Pope Urban II., as St. Bernard, 
were French, and thus gave, in a way sufficiently 
easy to explain, an appellation to all.* 

To the Crusades also, and to the intense hatred 
which they roused throughout Christendom against 
the Mahomedan infidels, we owe ' miscreant/ as 
* See Fuller, Holy War, b. i. c. 13. 


designating one to whom the vilest principles and 
practices are ascribed. A ' miscreant/ at the first, 
meant simply a misbeliever. The name would 
have been applied as freely, and with as little sense 
of injustice, to the royal-hearted Saladin as to the 
vilest wretch that fought in his armies. By de- 
grees, however, those who employed it tinged it 
more and more with their feeling and passion, more 
and more lost sight of its primary use, until they 
used it of any whom they regarded with feelings of 
abhorrence, such as those which they entertained 
for an infidel ; just as ' Samaritan ' was employed 
by the Jews simply as a term of reproach, and with 
no thought whether he on whom it was fastened 
was in fact one of that detested race or not ; where 
indeed they were quite sure that he was not (John 
viii. 48). ' Assassin/ also, an Arabic word whose 
story you will find no difficulty in obtaining, — you 
may read it in Gibbon * — connects itself with a 
romantic chapter in the history of the Crusades. 

Various explanations of ' cardinal ' have been 
proposed, which should account for the appropria- 
tion of this name to the parochial clergy of the city 
of Rome with the subordinate bishops of that 
diocese. This appropriation is an outgrowth, and 
a standing testimony, of the measureless assump- 
tions of the Roman See. One of the favorite com- 
parisons by which that See was wont to set out its 
relation of superiority to all other Churches of 
Christendom was this ; it was the hinge, or ' cardo/ 
on which all the rest of the Church, as the door, at 
* Decline and Fall, c. 64. 

LEGEND. 175 

once depended and turned. It followed presently 
upon this that the clergy of Rome were ' cardinales,' 
as nearest to and most closely connected with, him 
who was thus the hinge, or ' cardo,' of all.* 

4 Legend ' is a word with an instructive history. 
We all have some notion of what at this day a legend 
means. It is a tale which is not true, which, however 
historic inform, is not historic in fact, claims no seri- 
ous belief for itself. It was quite otherwise once. By 
this name of ' legends ' the annual commemorations 
of the faith and patience of God's saints in persecu- 
tion and death were originally called ; these le- 
gends in this title which they bore proclaiming that 
they were worthy to be read, and from this worthi- 
ness deriving their name. At a later day, as cor- 
ruptions spread through the Church, these ' legends ' 
grew, in Hooker's words, 'to be nothing else but 
heaps of frivolous and scandalous vanities,' having 
been ' even with disdain thrown out, the very nests 
which bred them abhorring them.' How steeped 
in falsehood, and to what an extent, according to 
Luther's indignant turn of the word, the ' legends ' 
(legende) must have become 'lyings' (lugende), 
we can best guess, when we measure the moral 
forces which must have been at work, before that 
which was accepted at the first as ' worthy to be 

* Thus a letter professing to be of Pope Anacletus the First in the first 
century, but really belonging to the ninth: Apostolica Sedes cardo et 
caput omnium Ecclesiarum a Domino est constituta; et sicut car dine 
ostium regitur, sic hujus S. Sedis auctoritate omnes Ecclesiae reguntur. 
And we have « cardinal ' put in relation with this ' cardo ' in a genuine 
letter of Pope L«o IX.: Clerici summae Sedis Cardinales dicuntur, car* 
dim utique illiquo cetera moventur, vicinius adhaerentes. 


read/ should have been felt by this very name to 
announce itself as most unworthy, as belonging at 
best to the region of fable, if not to that of actual 

An inquiry into the pedigree of i dunce ' lays open 
to us an important page in the intellectual history 
of Europe. Certain theologians in the Middle Ages 
were termed Schoolmen ; having been formed and 
trained in the cloister and cathedral schools which 
Charlemagne and his immediate successors had 
founded. These were men not to be lightly spoken 
of, as they often are by those who never read a line 
of their works, and have not a thousandth part of 
their wit ; who moreover little guess how many of 
the most familiar words which they employ, or mis- 
employ, have descended to them from these. ' Real, 1 
' virtual/ ' entity/ ' nonentity/ ' equivocation/ ' ob- 
jective/ ' subjective/ with many more unknown to 
classical Latin, but now almost necessities to us, 
were first coined by the Schoolmen ; and, passing 
over from them into the speech of others more or 
less interested in their speculations, have gradually 
filtered through the successive strata of society, till 
now some of them have reached to quite the lowest. 
At the Revival of Learning, however, their works 
fell out of favor : they were not written in classical 
Latin : the forms into which their speculations were 
thrown were often unattractive ; it was mainly in 
their authority that the Roman Church found sup- 
port for her perilled dogmas. On all these accounts 
it was esteemed a mark of intellectual progress to 
have broken with them, and thrown off their yoke. 

DUNCE. 177 

Some, however, still clung to these Schoolmen, and 
to one in particular, John Duns Scotus, the most 
illustrious teacher of the Franciscan Order. Thus 
it came to pass that many times an adherent of the 
old learning would seek to strengthen his position 
by an appeal to its famous doctor, familiarly called 
Duns ; while those of the new learning would con- 
temptuously rejoin, ' Oh, you are a Dunsman^ or 
more briefly, ' You are a Duns, 9 — or, ' This is a piece 
of duncery ' ; and inasmuch as the new learning was 
ever enlisting more and more of the genius and 
scholarship of the age on its side, the title became 
more and more a term of scorn. ' Remember ye 
not/ says Tyndal, ' how within this thirty years and 
far less, the old barking curs, Dunce's disciples, and 
like draff called Scotists, the children of darkness, 
raged in every pulpit against Greek, Latin, and He- 
brew ? * And thus from that conflict long ago ex- 
tinct between the old and the new learning, that 
strife between the medieval and the modern theol- 
ogy, we inherit ' dunce ' and ' duncery.' The lot of 
Duns, it must be confessed, has been a hard one, 
who, whatever his merits as a teacher of Christian 
truth, was assuredly one of the keenest and most 
subtle- witted of men. He, the ' subtle Doctor ' by 
pre-eminence, for so his admirers called him, ' the 
wittiest of the school-divines,' as Hooker does not 
scruple to style him, could scarcely have antic- 
ipated, and did not at all deserve, that his name 
should be turned into a by- word for invincible stu- 

This is but one example of the singular fortune 


waiting upon words. We have another of a paral- 
lel injustice, in the use which ' mammetry/ a con- 
traction of * Mahometry,' obtained in our early En- 
glish. Mahomedanism being the most prominent 
form of false religion with which our ancestors came 
in contact, ' mammetry ' was used, up to and beyond 
the Reformation, to designate first any false relig- 
ion, and then the worship of idols ; idolatry being 
proper to, and a leading feature of, most of the false 
religions of the world. Men did not pause to re- 
member that Mahomedanism is the great exception, 
being as it is a protest against all idol-worship 
whatsoever ; so that it was a signal injustice to call 
an idol a 'mawmet' or a Mahomet, and idolatry 
' mammetry.' 

A misnomer such as this may remind us of the 
immense importance of possessing such names for 
things as shall not involve or suggest an error. We 
have already seen this in the province of the moral 
life ; but in other regions also it nearly concerns us. 
Resuming, as words do, the past shaping the future, 
how important it is that significant facts or tenden- 
cies in the world's history should receive their right 
names. It is a corrupting of the very springs and 
sources of knowledge, when we bind up not a truth, 
but an error, in the very nomenclature which wq 
use. It is the putting of an obstacle in the way, 
which, however imperceptibly, is yet ever at work, 
hindering any right apprehension of the thing which 
has been thus erroneously noted. 

Out of a sense of this, an eminent German 
scholar of the last century, writing On the Influence 


of Opinions on Language, did not stop here, nor 
make this the entire title of his book, but added 
another and further clause — and on the Influence of 
Language on Opinions ; * the matter which fulfils 
the promise of this latter clause constituting by far 
the most interesting and original portion of his 
work : for while the influence of opinions on words 
is so little called in question, that the assertion of 
it sounds almost like a truism, this, on the contrary, 
of words on opinions, would doubtless present itself 
as a novelty to many. And yet it is an influence 
which has been powerfully felt in every region of 
human knowledge, in science, in art, in morals, in 
theology. The reactive energy of words, not merely 
on the passions of men (for that of course), but on 
their opinions calmly and deliberately formed, would 
furnish a very curious chapter in the history of hu- 
man knowledge and human ignorance. 

Sometimes words with no fault of theirs, for 
they did not originally involve any error, will yet 
draw some error in their train ; and of that error 
will afterwards prove the most effectual bulwark and 
shield. Let me instance — the author just referred 
to supplies the example — the word ' crystal.' The 
strange notion concerning the origin of the thing, 
current among the natural philosophers of antiquity, 
and which only two centuries ago Sir Thomas Browne 
thought it worth while to place first and foremost 
among the Vulgar Errors that he undertook to 
refute, was plainly traceable to a confusion occa- 

* Von dem Einfluss der Meinungen in die Sprache, und der Sprache 
in die Meinungen, von J. D. Micha&is, Berlin, 1760. 


sioned by the name. Crystal, as men supposed, 
was ice or snow which had undergone such a pro- 
cess of induration as wholly and for ever to have 
lost its fluidity: * and Pliny, backing up one mis- 
take by another, affirmed that it was only found in 
regions of extreme cold. The fact is, that the 
Greek word for crystal originally signified ice ; but 
after a while it was also imparted to that diapha- 
nous quartz which has so much the look of ice, and 
which alone we call by this name ; and then in a lit- 
tle while it was taken for granted that the two, 
having the same name, were in fact the same sub- 
stance, and this mistake it took ages to correct. 

Natural history abounds in legends. In the 
word ' leopard ' one of these has been permanently 
bound up ; the error, having first given birth to the 
name, being afterwards itself maintained and prop- 
agated by it. The leopard, as is well known, was 
not for the Greek and Latin zoologists a species by 
itself, but a mongrel birth of the male panther or 
pard and the lioness; and in 'leopard 1 or 'lion- 
pard,' this fabled double descent is expressed. t 
1 Cockatrice f embodies a somewhat similar fable ; 
the fable however in this case having been invented 
to account for the name.| 

* Augustine: Quid est crystallum ? Nix est glacie durata per multos 
annos, ita ut a sole vel igne facile dissolvi non possit. So too in Beau- 
mont and Fletcher's tragedy of Valentinian, a chaste matron is said tQ 
be 'cold as crystal never to be thawed again. 1 

f This error lasted into modern times; thus Fuller (A Pisgah Sight of 
Palestine, vol i. p. 195): ' Leopards and mules are properly no creatures.' 

% See Wright, The Bible Word Book, s. v. [The word cockatrice is 


It was Eichhorn who first suggested the calling of 
a certain group of languages, which stand in a, 
marked contradistinction to the Indo-European or 
Aryan family, by the common name of 'Semitic.' 
A word which should include all these was want- 
ing, and this one was handy and has made its for- 
tune ; at the same time implying, as 'Semitic' 
does, that these are all languages spoken by races 
which are descended from Shem, it is eminently 
calculated to mislead. There are non-Semitic 
races, the Phoenicians for example, which hav< 
spoken a Semitic language; there are Semitic 
races which have not spoken one. Against ' Indo- 
European ' the same objection may be urged ; see- 
ing that several languages are European, that is, 
spoken within the limits of Europe, as the Maltese, 
the Finnish, the Hungarian, the Basque, the Turk- 
ish, which lie altogether outside of this group. 

1 Gothic ' is plainly a misnomer, and has often 
proved a misleader as well, when applied to a style 
of architecture which belongs not to one, but to 
all the Germanic tribes ; which, moreover, did not 
come into existence till many centuries after any 
people called Goths had ceased from the earth. 
Those, indeed, who first called this medieval archi- 
tecture ' Gothic/ had no intention of ascribing 
to the Goths the first invention of it, however 
this language may seem now to bind up in itself an 
assertion of the kind. 'Gothic' was at first a 
mere random name of contempt. The Goths, with 

a corrupt form of Late Latin cocodrillus, which again is a corruption of 
Latin crocodilus, Gr. xpoHodetXoS, a crocodile.] 


the Vandals, being the standing representatives 
of the rude in manners and barbarous in taste, the 
critics who would fain throw scorn on this archi- 
tecture as compared with that classical Italian 
which alone seemed worthy of their admiration,* 
called it 'Gothic/ meaning rude and barbarous 
thereby. We who recognize in this Gothic archi- 
tecture the most wondrous and consummate birth 
of genius in one region of art, find it hard to believe 
that this was once a mere title of slight and scorn, 
and sometimes wrongly assume a reference in the 
word to the people among whom first it arose. 

* Classical ' and ' romantic/ names given to op- 
posing schools of literature and art, contain an ab- 
surd antithesis ; and either say nothing at all, or 
say something erroneous. * Revival of Learning ' 
is a phrase only partially true when applied to that 
mighty intellectual movement in Western Europe 
which marked the fifteenth century and the begin- 
ning of the sixteenth. A revival there might be, and 
indeed there was, of Greek learning at that time ; 
but there could not be properly affirmed a revival 
of Latin, inasmuch as it had never been dead ; or, 
even as those who dissent from this statement must 
own, had revived nearly two centuries before. 
4 Renaissance/ applied in France to the new direc- 
tion which art took about the age of Francis the 

* The name, as the designation of a style of architecture, came to us 
from Italy. Thus Fuller in his Worthies: « Let the Italians deride our 
English and condemn them for Gothish buildings.' See too a very 
curious expression of men's sentiments about Gothic architecture as 
simply equivalent to barbarous, in Phillips's New World of Words, 
1706, s.v. 'Gothick.' 


First, is another question-begging word. Very 
many would entirely deny that the bringing back oi 
an antique pagan spirit, and of pagan forms as the 
utterance of this, into Christian art was a ' renais- 
sance ' or new birth of it at all. 

But inaccuracy in naming may draw after it more 
serious mischief in regions more important. No- 
where is accuracy more vital than in words having 
to do with the chief facts and objects of our faith ; 
for such words, as Coleridge has observed, are never 
inert, but constantly exercise an immense reactive 
influence, whether men know it or not, on such as 
use them, or often hear them used by others. The 
so-called ' Unitarians/ claiming by this name of 
theirs to be asserters of the unity of the Godhead, 
claim that which belongs to us by far better right 
than to them ; which, indeed, belonging of fullest 
right to us, does not properly belong to them at 
all. I should, therefore, without any intention of 
offence, refuse the name to them ; just as I should 
decline, by calling those of the Roman Obedience 
' Catholics/ to give up the whole question at issue 
between them and us. So, also, were I one of them, 
I should never, however convenient it might some- 
times prove, consent to call the great religious 
movement of Europe in the sixteenth century the 
4 Reformation.' Such in our esteem it was, and in 
the deepest, truest sense ; a shaping anew of things 
that were amiss in the Church. But how any who 
esteem it a disastrous, and, on their parts who 
brought it about, a most guilty schism, can consent 
to call it by this name, has always surprised me. 


Let me urge on you here the importance of seek- 
ing in every case to acquaint yourselves with the 
circumstances under which any body of men who 
have played an important part in history, above all 
in the history of your own land, obtained the name 
by which they were afterwards themselves willing 
to be known, or which was used for their designa- 
tion by others. This you may do as a matter of 
historical inquiry, and keeping entirely aloof in 
spirit from the bitterness, the contempt, the calum- 
ny, out of which very frequently these names were 
first imposed. Whatever of scorn or wrong may have 
been at work in them who coined or gave currency 
to the name, the name itself can never without seri- 
ous loss be neglected by any who would truly un- 
derstand the moral significance of the thing ; for 
always something, oftentimes much, may be learned 
from it. Learn, then, about each one of these names 
which you meet in your studies, whether it was one 
that men gave to themselves ; or one imposed on 
them by others, but never recognized by them ; or 
one that, first imposed by others, was yet in course 
of time admitted and allowed by themselves. We 
have examples in all these kinds. Thus the ' Gnos- 
tics ' call themselves such ; the name was of their 
own devising, and declared that whereof they made 
their boast ; it was the same with the * Cavaliers ' 
of our Civil War. ' Quaker/ ' Puritan,' ' Round- 
head,' were all, on the contrary, names devised by 
others, and never accepted by those to whom they 
were attached. To the third class * Whig ' and ' To- 
ry ' belong. These were nicknames originally of bit- 


terest party hate, withdrawn from their earlier use, 
and fastened by two political bodies in England 
each on the other,* the ' Whig ' being properly a 
Scottish covenanter,t the ' Tory ' an Irish bog-trot- 
ting freebooter ; while yet these nicknames in tract 
of time so lost and let go what was offensive about 
them, that in the end they were adopted by the 
very parties themselves. Not otherwise the Ger- 
man ' Lutherans ' were originally so called by their 
antagonists.^: 'Methodist/ in like manner, was a 
title not first taken by the followers of Wesley, but 
fastened on them by others, while yet they have 
been subsequently willing, though with a certain 
reserve, to accept and to be known by it. 'Mo- 
miers ' or ' Mummers,' a name in itself of far greater 
offence, has obtained in Switzerland something of 
the same allowance. Exactly in the same way 
' Capuchin ' was at first a jesting nickname, given 
by the gamins in the streets to that reformed branch 
of the Franciscans which afterwards accepted it as 
their proper designation. It was provoked by the 
peaked and pointed hood (' cappuccio/ ' cappucino ') 
which they wore. The story of the * Gueux/ or 
* Beggars/ of Holland, and how they appropriated 
their name, is familiar, as I doubt not, to many.§ 

* In North's Examen. p. 321, is a very lively, though not a very im- 
partial, account of the rise of these names. 

f [For a full account of the name see Nares, and Todd's Johnson.] 

J Dr. Eck, one of the earliest who wrote against the Reformation, 
first called the Reformed ' Lutherani.' 

§ [See chapter on Political Nicknames in D'Israeli's Curiosities of 


A * Premier ' or ' Prime Minister/ though unknown 
to the law of England, is at present one of the in- 
stitutions of the country. The acknowledged lead- 
ership of one member in the Government is a fact 
of only gradual growth in our constitutional history, 
but one in which the nation has entirely acquiesced, — 
nor is there anything invidious now in the title. 
But in what spirit the Parliamentary Opposition, 
having coined the term, applied it first to Sir Rob- 
ert Walpole, is plain from some words of his spoken 
in the House of Commons, Feb. n, 1742 : * Having 
invested me with a kind of mock dignity, and styled 
me a Prime Minister, they [the Opposition] impute 
to me an unpardonable abuse of the chimerical au- 
thority which they only created and conferred/ 

Now of these titles some undoubtedly, like c Ca- 
puchin ' instanced just now, stand in no very inti- 
mate connection with those who bear them ; and 
such names, though seldom without their instruc- 
tion, yet plainly are not so instructive as others, in 
which the innermost heart of the thing named so 
utters itself, that, having mastered the name, we 
have placed ourselves at the central point, from 
whence best to master everything besides. It is 
thus with ' Gnostic ' and ' Gnosticism ' ; in the 
prominence given to gnbsis or knowledge, as op- 
posed to faith, lies the key to the whole system. 

The Greek Church has loved ever to style itself 
the Holy * Orthodox ' Church, the Latin, the Holy 
' Catholic ' Church. Follow up the thoughts which 
these words suggest. What a world of teaching 
they contain ; above all when brought into direct 


comparison and opposition one with the other. 
How does all which is innermost in the Greek and 
Roman mind unconsciously reveal itself here ; the 
Greek Church regarding as its chief blazon that its 
speculation is right, the Latin that its empire is 
universal. Nor indeed is it merely the Greek and 
Latin Churches which utter themselves here, but 
Greece and Rome in their deepest distinctions, as 
these existed from their earliest times. The key to 
the whole history, Pagan as well as Christian, of 
each is in these words. We can understand how 
the one established a dominion in the region of the 
mind which shall never be overthrown, the other 
founded an empire in the world whose visible effects 
shall never be done away. This is an illustrious 
example ; but I am bold to affirm that, in their de- 
gree, all parties, religious and political, are known 
by names that will repay study ; by names, to un- 
derstand which will bring us far to an understand- 
ing of their strength and their weakness, their truth 
and their error, the idea and intention according to 
which they wrought. Thus run over in thought a 
few of those which have risen up in England. ' Pur- 
itans,' « Fifth-Monarchy men/ ' Seekers/ ' Levellers/ 
* Independents/ * Friends/ ' Rationalists/ ' Latitudi- 
narians/ 'Freethinkers/ these titles, with many 
more, have each its significance ; and would you 
get to the heart of things, and thoroughly under- 
stand what any of these schools and parties intend- 
ed, you must first understand what they were called. 
From this as from a central point you must start ; 
even as you must bring back to this whatever fur- 


ther knowledge you may acquire ; putting your later 
gains, if possible, in subordination to the name ; at 
all events in connection and relation with it. 

You will often be able to glean information from 
names, such as, if not always important, will yet 
rarely fail to be interesting and instructive in its 
way. Thus what a record of inventions, how much 
of the past history of commerce do they embody 
and preserve. The 'magnet' has its name from 
Magnesia, a district of Thessaly ; this same Mag- 
nesia, or else another like-named district in Asia 
Minor, yielding the medicinal earth so called. 
' Artesian ' wells are from the province of Artois in 
France, where they were long in use before intro- 
duced elsewhere. The ' baldachin ' or baudekin ' is 
from Baldacco, the Italian form of the name of the 
city of Bagdad, from whence the costly silk of this 
canopy originally came * The ' bayonet ' suggests 
concerning itself, though perhaps wrongly, that it 
was first made at Bayonne — the ' bilbo/ a finely 
tempered Spanish blade, at Bilbao — the ' carronade ' 
at the Carron Ironworks in Scotland — 'worsted* 
that it was spun at a village not far from Norwich 
— ' sarcenet ' that it is a Saracen manufacture — 
1 cambric ' that it reached us from Cambray — * cop- 
per ' that it drew its name from Cyprus, so richly 
furnished with mines of this metal — ' fustian ' from 
Fostat, a suburb of Cairo — ' frieze from Friesland — 

* [See Devic's Supplement to Littrl; the Italian / is an attempt to 
pronounce the Arabic guttural Ghain. In the Middle Ages Baldacco 
was often supposed to be the same as 'Babylon '; see Florio's Ital, 
Diet. (s. v. baldacci).\ 


4 silk ' or 4 sericum ' from the land of the Seres or 
Chinese — ' damask ' from Damascus — 4 cassimere ' 
or 4 kerseymere ' from Cashmere—' arras ' from a 
town like-named— ' duffel/ too, from a town near 
Antwerp so called, which Wordsworth has immor- 
talized — * shalloon ' from Chalons — ' jane * from 
Genoa— ' gauze ' from Gaza. The fashion of the 
4 cravat ' was borrowed from the Croats, or Crabats, 
as this wild irregular soldiery of the Thirty Years' 
War used to be called. The 4 biggen/ a plain cap 
often mentioned by our early writers, was first worn 
by the Beguines, communities of pietist women in 
the Low Countries in the twelfth century. The 
' dalmatic ' was a garment whose fashion was taken 
to be borrowed from Dalmatia. (See Marriott.) 
England now sends her calicoes and muslins to India 
and the East ; yet these words give standing wit- 
ness that we once imported them from thence ; for 
•calico' is from Calicut, a town on the coast of 
Malabar, and ' muslin ' from Mossul, a city in 
Asiatic Turkey. 4 Cordwain ' or 4 cordovan ' is from 
Cordova — 4 delf ' from Delft — 4 indigo ' (indicum) 
from India — ' gamboge ' from Cambodia— the 
'agate' from a Sicilian river, Achates — the 'tur- 
quoise' from Turkey — the 'chalcedony' or onyx 
from Chalcedon — 'jet' from the river Gages in 
Lycia, where this black stone is found.* 4 Rhu- 
barb ' is a corruption of Rha barbarum, the root 
from the savage banks of the Rha or Volga— 
'jalap' is from Jalapa, a town in Mexico — 'tobacco 

* In Holland's Pliny, the Greek form 'gagates' is still retained 
though he oftener calls it ( jeat r or * geat.' 


from the island Tobago — ' malmsey ' from Malvasia, 
for long a flourishing city in the Morea — ' sherry/ 
or ' sherris ' as Shakespeare wrote it, is from Xeres 
— ' macassar ' oil from a small Malay kingdom so 
named in the Eastern Archipelago — 'dittany' 
from the mountain Dicte, in Crete — 'parchment' 
from Pergamum — ' majolica ' from Majorca — 
* faience ' from the town named in Italian Faenza. 
A little town in Essex gave its name to the ' til- 
bury'; another, in Bavaria, to the 'landau.' The 
' bezant ' is a coin of Byzantium ; the ' guinea ' was 
originally coined (in 1663) of gold brought from the 
African coast so called ; the pound ' sterling ' was 
a certain weight of bullion according to the stand- 
ard of the Easterlings, or Eastern merchants from 
the Hanse Towns on the Baltic. The ' spaniel ' is 
from Spain; the 'barb' is a steed from Barbary; 
the pony called a ' galloway ' from the county of 
Galloway in Scotland ; the ' tarantula ' is a poison- 
ous spider, common in the neighborhood of Taren- 
tum. The ' pheasant ' reached us from the banks 
of the Phasis ; the ' bantam ' from a Dutch settle- 
ment in Java so called ; the ' canary/ bird and 
wine, both from the island so named ; the ' peach ' 
(persica) declares itself a Persian fruit ; ' cur- 
rants ' derived their name from Corinth, whence 
they were mostly shipped ; the ' damson ' is the 
' damascene,' or plum of Damascus ; the ' berga- 
mot 9 pear is named from Bergamo in Italy ; the 
' quince * has undergone so many changes in its 
progress through Italian and French to us, that it 
hardly retains any trace of Cydon (malum Cydon- 


ium), a town of Crete, from which it was supposed 
to proceed. ' Solecisms/ if I may find room for 
them here, are from Solce, an Athenian colony in 
Cilicia, whose members soon forgot the Attic 
refinement of speech, and became notorious for the 
ungrammatical Greek which they talked. 

And as things thus keep record in the names 
which they bear of the quarters from which they 
reached us, so also will they often do of the persons 
who, as authors, inventors, or discoverers, or in 
some other way stood in near connection with them. 
A collection in any language of all the names of 
persons which have since become names of things 
—from nomina appellaiiva have become nomina 
realia — would be very curious and interesting. I 
will enumerate a few. Where the matter is not fa- 
miliar to you, it will not be unprofitable to work 
back from the word or thing to the person, and to 
learn more accurately the conection between them. 
To begin with mythical antiquity — the Chimaera 
has given us ' chimerical/ Hermes ' hermetic/ Pan 
4 panic/ Paean, being a name of Apollo, the ' peony/ 
Tantalus ' to tantalize/ Hercules ' herculean/ Pro- 
teus 'protean/ Vulcan * volcano' and * volcanic/ 
and Daedalus * dedal/ if this word, for which Spen- 
ser, Wordsworth, and Shelley have all stood god- 
fathers, may find allowance with us. The demi- 
god Atlas figures with a world upon his shoulders 
in the title-page of some early works on geography; 
and has probably in this way lent to our map- 
books their name. Gordius, the Phrygian king 
who tied the famous ' gordian ' knot which Alex- 



this n 
her o 
early - 
than 1 
was a 
pent w 
and nu 
with tl 
it dot- 
early c 
which ■ 
in the 
name ; 

fact pr " -- a«* 

word's "" . a girr 

the tw _ -e- -* 

Christ 1 * - s*^ 

ment < " _ -art: - 

survive _ --— *** * 

soldier <•««£ -* 




we understand it now, is not a precise reproduction 
of his sin as recorded in Scripture. A common 
fossil shell is called an ' ammonite ' from the fanci- 
ful resemblance to the twisted horns of Jupiter 
Ammon which was traced in it ; Ammon again 
appearing in ' ammonia/ Our ' pantaloons ' are 
from St. Pantaleone ; he was the patron saint of 
the Venetians, who therefore very commonly 
received Pantaleon as their Christian name ; it was 
from them transferred to a garment which they 
much affected. ' Dunce/ as we have seen, is 
derived from Duns Scotus. To come to more 
modern times, and not pausing at Ben Jonson's 
' chaucerisms,' Bishop Hall's ' scoganisms/ from 
Scogan, Edward the Fourth's jester, or his ' aretin- 
isms,' from Aretin ; these being probably not 
intended even by their authors to endure ; a Roman 
cobbler named Pasquin has given us the g pasquil ' 
or ' pasquinade.' Derrick was the common hang- 
man in the time of Charles II.; he bequeathed his 
name to the crane used for the lifting and moving of 
heavy weights/ * ' Patch ' a name of contempt not 
unfrequent in Shakespeare, was, it is said the pro- 
per name of a favorite fool of Cardinal Wolsey's.t 
Colonel Negus in Queen Anne's time is reported 
to have first mixed the beverage which goes by his 

* [But derick in the sense of * gallows ' occurs as early as 1606 in 
Dekker's Seven Deadly Sins of London, ed. Arber, p. 17; see Skeat's 
Etytn. Diet., ed. 2, p. 799.] 

t [The Cardinal's two fools were occasionally called patch, a term 
for a « domestic fool,' from the patchy, parti-colored dress; see Skeat 
(s. v.).] 


name. Lord Orrery was the first for whom an 
1 orrery* was constructed ; Lord Spencer first wore 
or first brought into fashion, a ' spencer ' ; and the 
Duke of Roquelaure the cloak which still bears his 
name. Dahl, a Swede, introduced from Mexico the 
cultivation of the ' dahlia * ; the * fuchsia ' is named 
after Fuchs, a German botanist of the sixteenth cen- 
tury ; the ' magnolia ' after Magnol, a distinguished 
French botanist of the beginning of the eighteenth; 
while the ' camellia ' was introduced into Europe 
from Japan in 1731 by Camel, a member of the So- 
ciety of Jesus ; the ' shaddock ' by Captain Shad- 
dock, who first transplanted this fruit from the 
West Indies. In ' quassia ' we have the name of a 
negro sorcerer of Surinam, who in 1730 discovered 
its properties, and after whom it was called. An 
unsavory jest of Vespasian has attached his name 
in French to an unsavory spot. ' Nicotine/ the 
poison recently drawn from tobacco, goes back for 
its designation to Nicot, a physician who first intro- 
duced the tobacco-plant to the general notice of 
Europe. The Gobelins were a family so highly 
esteemed in France that the manufactory of tapes- 
try which they had established in Paris did not 
drop their name, even after it had been purchased 
and was conducted by the State. A French Prot- 
estant refugee, Tabinet, first made ' tabinet ' in 
Dublin; another Frenchman, Goulard, a physician 
of Montpellier, gave his to the soothing lotion, not 
unknown in our nurseries. The 'tontine' was con- 
ceived by Tonti, an Italian ; another Italian, Gal- 
vani, first noted the phenomena of animal electri- 


city or ' galvanism ' ; while a third, Volta, lent a 
title to the ' voltaic ' battery. Dolomieu, a French 
geologist, first called attention to a peculiar for- 
mation of rocks in Eastern Tyrol, called 'dol- 
omites ' after him. Colonel Martinet was a French 
officer appointed by Louvois as an army inspector ; 
one who did his work excellently well, but has left 
a name bestowed often since on mere military 
pedants. ' Macintosh/ ' doyly/ ' brougham/ ' han- 
som/ ' to mesmerize/ • to macadamize/ ' to burke,' 
4 to boycott/ are all names of persons or words 
formed from their names, and then transferred to 
things or actions, on the ground of some sort of 
connection between the one and the other.* To 

* Several other such words we have in common with the French. Of 
their own they have * sardanapalisme,' any piece of profuse luxury, from 
Sardanapalus. For 'lambiner/ to dally or loiter over a task, they are 
indebted to Denis Lambin, a worthy Greek scholar of the sixteenth cen- 
tury, but accused of sluggish movement and wearisome difhiseness in 
style. Every reader of Pascal's Provincial Letters will remember Esco- 
bar, the famous casuist of the Jesuits, whose convenient devices for the 
relaxation of the moral law have there been made famous. To the 
notoriety which he thus acquired, he owes his introduction into the 
French language; where * escobarder * is used in the sense of to equivo 
cate, and * escobaidene ' of subterfuge or equivocation. A pale green 
color is in French called « celadon ' from a personage of this name, of a 
feeble and fade tenderness, who figures m Astree, a popular romance 
of the seventeenth century. An unpopular minister of finance, M. 
de Silhouette, unpopular because he sought to cut down unnecessary 
expenses in the State, saw his name transferred to the slight and thus 
cheap black outline portrait called a * silhouette ' (Sismondi, Hist, des 
Francois, vol. xix. pp. 94, 95) In the * mansarde • roof we are re- 
minded of Mansart, the architect who introduced it. In « marivaudage ' 
the name of Manvaux is bound up, who was noted for the affected 
euphuism which goes by this name; very much as the sophist Gorgias 
gave yopyxa^etv to the Greek. The point of contact between the 


these I may add ' guillotine/ though Dr. Guillotin 
did not invent this instrument of death, even as it 
is a baseless legend that he died by it. Some im- 
provements in it he made, and it thus happened 
that it was called after him. 

Nor less shall we find history, at all events literary 
history, in the noting of the popular characters in 
books, who have supplied words that have passed 
into common speech. Thus from Homer we have 
'mentor* for a monitor; 'stentorian* for loud- 
voiced ; and inasmuch as, with all of Hector's 
nobleness, there is a certain amount of big talk 
about him, he has given us ' to hector ' ; * while the 
medieval romances about the siege of Troy ascribe 
to Pandarus that shameful traffic out of which his 
name has passed into the words ' to pander ' and 
4 pandarism.' * Rodomontade ' is from Rodomonte, 
a hero of Boiardo ; who yet, it must be owned, 
does not bluster and boast, as the word founded on 
his name seems to imply; adopted by Ariosto, it 
was by him changed into Rodamonte. ' Thrasoni- 
cal' is from Thraso, the braggart of Roman comedy. 
Cervantes has given us ' quixotic ' ; Swift ' lillipu- 
tian ' ; to Molfere the French language owes * tar- 
tuffe ' and ' tartufferie.' ' Reynard ' with us is a sort 
of duplicate for fox, while in French ' renard ' has 
quite excluded the old ' volpils,' being originally no 

* fiacre ' and St. Fiacre is well known: hackney carriages, when first 
established in Paris, waited for their hiring in the court of an hotel which 
was adorned with an image of the Scottish saint. 

* See Col. Mure, Language and Literature of Ancient Greece, *ol. i. 
p. 35* 


more than the proper name of the fox-hero, the 
vulpine Ulysses, in that famous beast-epic of the 
Middle Ages, Reineke Fuchs. The immense popu- 
larity of this poem we gather from many evidences 
from none more clearly than from this. ' Chanti- 
cleer ' is the name of the cock, and ' Bruin ' of the 
bear in the same poem * These have not made 
fortune to the same extent of actually putting out 
of use names which before existed, but contest the 
right of existence with them. 

Occasionally a name will embody and give per- 
manence to an error ; as when in ' America ' the 
discovery of the New World, which belonged to 
Columbus, is ascribed to another eminent discov- 
erer, but one who had no title to this honor, even 
as he was entirely guiltless of any attempt to usurp 
it for himself.t Our ' turkeys ' are not from Turkey, 
as was assumed by those who so called them, but 
from that New World where alone they are native. 
This error the French in another shape repeat with 
their ' dinde,' originally ' poulet ctlndel or Indian 
fowl. There lies in 'gipsy/ or Egyptian, the 
assumption that Egypt was the original home of 
this strange people ; as was widely believed when 
they made their first appearance in Europe early in 
the fifteenth century. That this, however, was a 
mistake, their language leaves no doubt ; proclaim- 

* See Genin, Des Variations du Langage Francois, p. 12. 

f Humboldt has abundantly shown this (Kosmos, vol. ii. note 457). 
He ascribes its general reception to its introduction into a popular work 
on geography, published in 1507. The subject has also been very care, 
folly treated by Major, Life of Prime Henry the Navigator > 1868, pp. 


ing as it does that they are wanderers from a more 
distant East, an outcast tribe from Hindostan. 
1 Bohemians/ as they are called by the French, tes- 
tifies to a similar error, to the fact that at their first 
apparition in Western Europe they were supposed 
by the common people in France to be the expelled 
Hussites of Bohemia. 

Where words have not embodied an error, it will 
yet sometimes happen that the sound or spelling 
will to us suggest one. Against such in these 
studies it will be well to be on our guard. Thus 
many of us have been tempted to put ' domus/ and 
' dominus ' into a connection which really does not 
exist. There has been a stage in most boys' geo- 
graphical knowledge, when they have taken for 
granted that 'Jutland ' was so called, not because it 
was the land of the Jutes, but on account of its 
jutting out into the sea in so remarkable a manner. 
At a much later period of their education, ' Abo- 
rigines/ being the proper name of an Italian tribe, 
might very easily lead astray.* Who is there that 
has not mentally put the Gulf of Lyons in some 
connection with the city of the same name ? We 
may be surprised that the Gulf should have drawn 
its title from a city so remote and so far inland, but 
we accept the fact notwithstanding : the river 
Rhone, flowing by the one, and disemboguing in 
the other, seems to offer to us a certain link of con- 
nection. There is indeed no true connection at all 
between the two. In old texts this Gulf is gener- 
ally called Sinus Gallicus ; in the fourteenth cen- 

* See Pauly, Encytlop. s. r. Latium. 


tury a few writers began to call it Sinus Leonis y the 
Gulf of the Lion, possibly from the fierceness of its 
winds and waves, but at any rate by a name having 
nothing to do with Lyons on the Rhone. The oak, 
in Greek Spvs, plays no inconsiderable part in the 
Ritual of the Druids ; it is not therefore wonderful 
if most students at one time of their lives have put 
the two in etymological relation. The Greeks, 
who with so characteristic a vanity assumed that 
the key to the meaning of words in all languages 
was to be found in their own, did this of course. So, 
too, there have not been wanting those who have 
traced in the name ' Jove ' a heathen reminiscence 
of the awful name of Jehovah ; while yet, however 
specious this may seem, on closer scrutiny the 
words declare that they have no connection with 
one another, any more than ' Iapetus ' and ' Japheth,' 
or, I may add, than ' God ' and • good/ which yet 
by an honorable moral instinct men can hardly 
refrain from putting into an etymological relation 
with each other. 

Sometimes a falsely-assumed derivation of a word 
has reacted upon and modified its spelling. Thus 
it may have been with ' hurricane.' In the tearing 
up and hurrying away of the canes in the sugar 
plantations by this West-Indian tornado, many 
have seen an explanation of the name ; just in the 
same way as the Latin • calamitas ' has been derived 
from ' calamus/ the stalk of the corn. In both 
cases the etymology is faulty ; ' hurricane,' origi- 
nally a Carib word, is only a transplanting into our 
tongue of the Spanish ' huracan/ 


It is a signal evidence of the conservative powers 
of language, that we may continually trace in speech 
the record of customs and states of society which 
have now passed so entirely away as to survive in 
these words alone. For example, a ' stipulation ' 
or agreement is so called, as many affirm, from 
1 stipula/ a straw ; and tells of a Roman custom, 
that when two persons would make a mutual en- 
gagement with one another,* they would break a 
straw between them. We all know what fact of 
English history is laid up in ' curfew/ or ' couvre- 
feu.' The 'limner/ or 'illuminer/ for so we find 
the word in Fuller, throws us back on a time when 
the illumination of manuscripts was a leading occu- 
pation of the painter. By 'lumber,' we are re- 
minded that Lombards were the first pawnbrokers, 
even as they were the first bankers, in England : a 
' lumber '-room being a ' lombard '-room, or a room 
where the pawnbroker stored his pledges.t Nor 
need I do more than remind you that in our com- 
mon phrase of ' signing our name/ we preserve a 
record of a time when such first rudiments of edu- 
cation as the power of writing, were the portion of 
so few, that it was not as now an exception, but the 
custom, of most persons to make their mark or 
' sign ' ; great barons and kings themselves not be- 

* See on this disputed point, and on the relation between the Latin 
* stipulatio • and the old German custom not altogether dissimilar, J. 
Grimm, Deutsche Rechtsalterthumer^ pp. 1 2 1 , sqq. [This account of the 
derivation of « stipulatio * is generally given up now; for Greek cognate* 
of the word see Curtius, Greek Etymology \ No. 224.] 

f See my Select Glossary, s. v. Lumber. 


ing ashamed to set this sign or cross to the weigh * 
tiest documents. To 'subscribe' the name would 
more accurately express what now we do. As 
often as we term arithmetic the science of calcula- 
tion, we implicitly allude to that rudimental stage 
in this science, when pebbles (calculi) were used, as 
now among savage tribes they often are, to help the 
practice of counting ; the Greeks made the same 
use of one word of theirs (tf)t?<p{2eiv) ; while in 
another {nt}ina&iv) they kept record of a period 
when the five fingers were so employed. ' Expend/ 
'expense,' tell us that money was once weighed 
out (Gen. xxiii. 16), not counted out as now; 
' pecunia,' ' peculatus,' ' fee ' (vieh) keep record all 
of a time when cattle were the main circulating 
medium. In 'library* we preserve the fact that 
books were once written on the bark (liber) of 
trees ; in ' volume ' that they were mostly rolls ; in 
•paper,' that the Egyptian papyrus, 'the paper- 
reeds by the brooks,' furnished at one time the 
ordinary material on which they were written. 

Names thus so often surviving things, we have no 
right to turn an etymology into an argument. 
There was a notable attempt to do this in the con- 
troversy so earnestly carried on between the Greek 
and Latin Churches, concerning the bread, whether 
it should be leavened or unleavened, that was used 
at the Table of the Lord. Those of the Eastern 
Church constantly urged that the Greek word for 
bread (and in Greek was the authoritative record 
of the first institution of this sacrament), implied, 
according to its root, that which was raised or lifted 


up ; not, therefore, to use a modern term, ' sad ' or 
set, or, in other words, unleavened bread ; such 
rather as had undergone the process of fermenta- 
tion. But even if the etymology on which they re- 
lied (afproff from aip<*o, to raise) had been as certain 
as it is questionable, they could draw no argument 
of the slightest worth from so remote an etymology, 
and one which had so long fallen out of the con- 
sciousness of those who employed the word. 

Theories too, which long since were utterly re- 
nounced, have yet left their traces behind them. 
Thus ' good humor/ * bad humor/ ' humors/ and, 
strangest contradiction of all, * dry humor/ rest al- 
together on a now exploded, but a very old and 
widely accepted, theory of medicine ; according to 
which there were four principal moistures or ' hu- 
mors ' in the natural body, on the due proportion 
and combination of which the disposition alike of 
body and mind depended.* Our present use of 
4 temper ' has its origin in the same theory ; the due 
admixture, or right tempering, of these humors 
gave what was called the happy temper, or mixture, 
which, thus existing inwardly, manifested itself also 
outwardly ; while ' distemper/ which we still em- 
ploy in the sense of sickness, was that evil frame 
either of a man's body or his mind (for it was used 
of both), which had its rise in an unsuitable min- 
gling of these humors. In these instances, as in 
many more, the great streams of thought and feel- 
ing have changed their course, flowing now in quite 
other channels from those which once they filled, 

* See the Prologue to Ben Jonson's Every Man out of His Humour. 


but have left these words as abiding memorials of 
the channels wherein once they ran. Thus 'ex- 
tremes/ ' golden mean/ ' category/ ' predicament/ 
1 axiom/ ' habit/ — what are these but a deposit in 
our ethical terminology which Aristotle has left 
behind him ? 

But we have not exhausted our examples of the 
way in which the record of old errors, themselves 
dismissed long ago, will yet survive in language — 
being bound up in words that grew into use when 
those errors found credit, and that maintain their 
currency still. The mythology which Saxon or 
Dane brought with them from their German or 
Scandinavian homes is as much extinct for us as are 
the Lares, Larvae, and Lemures of heathen Rome ; 
yet the deposit it has permanently left behind it in 
the English language is not inconsiderable. ' Lub- 
ber/ * dwarf/ ' oaf/ ' droll/ ' wight/ ' puck/ ' urchin/ 
' hag/ ' night- mare/ ' gramary/ ' Old Nick/ ' change- 
ling* (wechselkind), suggest themselves, as all be- 
queathed to us by that old Teutonic demonology.* 
Few now have any faith in astrology, or count that 
the planet under which a man is born will affect his 
temperament, make him for life of a disposition 
grave or gay, lively or severe. Yet our language 
affirms as much ; for we speak of men as ' jovial ' or 
' saturnine/ or ' mercurial ' — ' jovial/ as being born 

* [But the words puck, urchin, gramary, are not of Teutonic origin. 
The etymology of puck is unknown; urchin means properly 'a hedge- 
hog, 1 being the old French ericon (in modern French herisson), a deriva- 
tive from the Latin ericitis, 'a hedgehog'; gramary is simply Old 
French gramaire, • grammar ' = Lat. grammatica (ars), just as Old 
French mire, * a medical man ' = Lat. mtdicum.] 


under the planet Jupiter or Jove, which was the 
joyfullest star, and of happiest augury of all ; * a 
gloomy severe person is said to be * saturnine/ born, 
that is, under the planet Saturn, who makes those 
that own his influence, having been born when he 
was in the ascendant, grave and stern as himself : 
another we call 'mercurial/ or light-hearted, as 
those born under the planet Mercury were account- 
ed to be. The same faith in the influence of the 
stars survives in ' disastrous/ « ill-starred/ ' ascend- 
ancy/ ' lord of the ascendant/ and, indeed, in • in- 
fluence ' itself. What a record of old speculations, 
old certainly as Aristotle, and not yet exploded in 
the time of Milton,t does the word ' quintessence ' 
contain ; and ' arsenic ' the same ; no other namely 
than this, that metals are of different sexes, some 
male (dpasvixa), and some female. Again, what 
curious legends belong to the ' sardonic/ t or Sar- 
dinian, laugh ; a laugh caused, as was supposed, by 
a plant growing in Sardinia, of which they who ate, 
died laughing ; to the ' barnacle ' goose, § to the 
' amethyst/ esteemed, as the word implies, a pre- 
ventive or antidote of drunkenness ; and to other 
words not a few, which are employed by us still. 

* 'Jovial ' in Shakespeare's time (see Cymbeline, act 5, sc. 4) had not 
forgotten its connection with Jove. 

t See Paradise Lost, iii. 714-719. 

$ See an excellent history of this word, in Rost and Palm's Greek 
Lexicon, s. v. 6ap86vioS. 

§ For a full and most interesting study on this very curious legend, 
see Max M tiller's Lectures on Language, vol. ii. pp. 533-551; [for the 
etymology of the word barnacle in this connection see the New English 
Dictionary (s. v.).] 


A question presents itself here, and one not 
merely speculative ; for it has before now become 
a veritable case of conscience with some whether 
they ought to use words which originally rested on, 
and so seem still to affirm, some superstition or un- 
truth. This question has practically settled itself ; 
the words will keep their ground : but further, they 
have a right to do this ; for no word need be con- 
sidered so to root itself in its etymology, and to 
draw its sap and strength from thence, that it can- 
not detach itself from this, and acquire the rights 
of an independent existence. And thus our weekly 
newspapers commit no absurdity in calling them- 
selves 'journals/ or ' diurnals ' ; and we as little 
when we name that a ' journey ' which occupies not 
one, but several days. We involve ourselves in no 
real contradiction, speaking of a ' quarantine ' of 
five, ten, or any number of days more or fewer than 
forty ; or of a population ' decimated ' by a plague, 
though exactly a tenth of it has not perished. A 
stone coffin may be still a ' sarcophagus,' without 
thereby implying that it has any special property 
of consuming the flesh of bodies which are laid with- 
in it* In like manner the wax of our ' candles ' 
('candela,' from ' candeo ') is not necessarily white ; 
our 'rubrics' retain their name, though seldom 
printed in red ink ; neither need our * miniatures ' 
abandon theirs, though no longer painted with 
minium or carmine ; our ' surplice ' is not usually 
worn over an undergarment of skins ; our ' stirrups ' 
are not ropes by whose aid we climb upon our 
* See Pliny, H. N. ii. 96; xxxvi. 17. 


horses; nor are ' haversacks ' sacks for the carrying of 
oats ; it is not barley or bere only which we store 
up in our ' barns/ nor hogs' fat in our ' larders ' ; a 
monody need not be sung by a single voice ; and 
our lucubrations are not always by candlelight ; a 
4 costermonger ' or * costard-monger ' does not of 
necessity sell costards or apples ; there are ' pal- 
aces ' which are not built on the Palatine Hill ; and 
' nausea ' * which is not sea-sickness. I remember 
once asking a class of school-children whether an 
announcement which during one very hard winter 
appeared in the papers, of a ' white blackbird. ' having 
been shot, might be possibly correct, or was on the 
face of it self-contradictory and absurd. The less 
thoughtful members of the class instantly pro- 
nounced against it ; while after a little considera- 
tion, two or three made answer that it might very 
well be, that, while without doubt the bird had 
originally obtained this name from its blackness, 
yet * blackbird ' was now the name of a species, and 
a name so cleaving to it, as not to be forfeited, even 
when the blackness had quite disappeared. We do 
not question the right of the € New Forest ' to re- 
tain this title of New, though it has now stood for 
eight hundred years ; nor of € Naples ' to be New 
City (Neapolis) still, after an existence three or four 
times as long. 

It must, then, be esteemed a piece of ethical 
prudery, and an ignorance of the laws which lan- 
guages obey, when the early Quakers refused to 

* [From nausea through the French comes our English noise; see 
Bartsch and Horning, § 90.] 


employ the names commonly given to the days of 
the week, and substituted for these, ' first day/ 
' second day,' and so on. This they did, as is well 
known, on the ground that it became aot Christian 
men to give that sanction to idolatry which was 
involved in the ordinary style — as though every time 
they spoke of Wednesday they were rendering hom- 
age to Woden, of Thursday to Thor, of Friday to 
Friga, and thus with the rest ;* or at all events 
recognizing their existence. Now it is quite intel- 
ligible that the early Christians, living in the midst 
of a still rampant heathenism, should have objected, 
as we know they did, to ' dies Solis,' or Sunday, to 
express the first day of the week, their Lord's-Day. 
But when the later Friends raised their protest, 
the case was altogether different. The false gods 
whose names were bound up in these words had 
ceased to be worshipped in England for about a 
thousand years ; the words had wholly disengaged 
themselves from their etymologies, of which prob- 
ably not one in a thousand had the slightest sus- 
picion. Moreover, had these precisians in speech 
been consistent, they could not have stopped where 
they did. Every new acquaintance with the ety- 

* It is curious to find Fuller prophesying, a very few years before, 
that at some future day such a protest as theirs might actually be raised 
(Church History* *>• ii. cent. 6): ' Thus we see the whole week bescatter- 
ed with Saxon idols, whose pagan gods were the godfathers of the days, 
and gave them their names. This some zealot may behold as the object 
of a necessary reformation, desiring to have the days of the week new 
dipt, and called after other names. Though, indeed, this supposed scan- 
dal will not offend the wise, as beneath their notice; and cannot offend 
the ignorant, as above their knowledge.' 


mology or primary use of words would have eu 
tangled them in some new embarrassment, would 
have required a new purging of their vocabulary. 
' To charm/ ' to bewitch/ ' to fascinate/ ' to en- 
chant/ would have been no longer lawful words for 
those who had outlived the belief in magic, and in 
the power of the evil eye ; nor • lunacy/ nor ' luna- 
tic/ for such as did not count the moon to have 
anything to do with mental unsoundness ; nor 
1 panic ' fear, for those who believed that the great 
god Pan was indeed dead ; nor ' auguries/ nor 
' auspices/ for those to whom divination was 
nothing ; while to speak of ' initiating ' a person 
into the ' mysteries ' of an art, would have been ut- 
terly heathenish language. Nay, they must have 
found fault with the language of Holy Scripture 
itself ; for a word of honorable use in the New Tes- 
tament expressing the function of an interpreter, 
and reappearing in our ' hermeneutics/ is directly 
derived from and embodies the name of Hermes, a 
heathen deity, and one who did not, like Woden, 
Thor, and Friga, pertain to a long extinct mythol- 
ogy, but to one existing in its strength at the very 
time when he wrote. And how was it, as might 
have been fairly asked, that St. Paul did not pro- 
test against a Christian woman retaining the name 
of Phoebe (Rom. xvi. i), a goddess of the same 
mythology ? 

The rise and fall of words, the honor which in 
tract of time they exchanged for dishonor, and the 
dishonor for honor — all which in my last lecture I 
contemplated mainly from an ethical point of view 


— is in a merely historic aspect scarcely less re- 
markable. Very curious is it to watch the vary- 
ing fortune of words — the extent to which it has 
fared with them, as with persons and families; 
some having improved their position in the world, 
and attained to far higher dignity than seemed des- 
tined for them at the beginning, while others in a 
manner quite as notable have lost caste, have de- 
scended from their high estate to common and even 
ignoble uses. Titles of dignity and honor have nat- 
urally a peculiar liability to be some lifted up, and 
some cast down. Of words which have risen in the 
world, the French * marechal ' affords us an excel- 
lent example. 'Mar£chal,' as Howell has said, 
' at first was the name of a smith-farrier, or one 
that dressed horses' — which indeed it is still — ' but 
it climbed by degrees to that height that the 
chiefest commanders of the gendarmery are come 
to be called marshals.' But if this has risen, our 
1 alderman ' has fallen. Whatever the civic dignity 
of an alderman may now be, still it must be owned 
that the word has lost much since the time that 
the 4 alderman ' was only second in rank and posi- 
tion to the king. Sometimes a word will keep 
or even improve its place in one language, while 
at the same time it declines from it in another. 
Thus * demoiselle ' (dominicella) cannot be said to 
have lost ground in French, however 'donzelle' 
may ; while ' damhele/ being the same word, desig- 
nates in Walloon the farm-girl who minds the cows.* 

* See Littre\ Etudes et Glanures> p. 16; compare p. 30. Elsewhere 
he says: Les mots out leurs d&heances comme les families. 


4 Pope * is the highest ecclesiastical dignitary 
in the Latin Church ; every parish priest is a 
'pope* in the Greek. ' Queen* (r*yvrri) has had 
a double fortune. Spelt as above it has more 
than kept the dignity with which it started, being 
the title given to the lady of the kingdom; while 
spelt as ' quean ' it is a designation not untinged 
with contempt.* 4 Squatter * remains for us in 
England very much where it always was ; in Aus- 
tralia it is now the name by which the landed 
aristocracy are willing to be known.t 

After all which has thus been adduced, you will 
scarcely deny that we have a right to speak of 
a history in words. Now suppose that the pieces 
of money which in the intercourse and traffic of 
daily life are passing through our hands contin- 
ually, had each one something of its own that 
made it more or less worthy of note; if on one 
was stamped some striking maxim, on another 
some important fact, on the third a memorable 
date ; if others were works of finest art graven 
with rare and beautiful devices, or bearing the 
head of some ancient sage or hero king ; while 
others, again, were the sole surviving monuments 
of mighty nations that once filled the world with 
their fame ; what a careless indifference to our 
own improvement — to all which men hitherto had 

* [Queen and quean are not merely different spellings of the same 
Old English word; for queen represents Anglo-Saxon cwen t Gothic qens, 
whereas quean is the phonetic equivalent of Anglo-Saxon cwene, Gothic 

f Dilke, Greater Britain, vol. ii. p. 40. 


felt or wrought — would it argue in us, if we were 
content that these should come and go, should 
stay by us or pass from us, without our vouchsaf- 
ing to them so much as one serious regard. Such 
a currency there is, a currency intellectual and 
spiritual of no meaner worth, and one with which 
we have to transact so much of the higher busi- 
ness of our lives. Let us take care that we come 
not in this matter under the condemnation of any 
such incurious indifference as that which I have 




I. Language a vehicle of knowledge. 

i. A link between the past and present. 
2. A reliable record. 
II. Language a record of history. 
III. History can be recreated from language. 
Example — the Norman Conquest, 

I. Saxon and norman relations, 
i. They existed side by side. 

2. They were fused into a third. 

3. Those words survived in each : 

'a.) Which were most used. 

(b.) Which laid the strongest hold on life. 

(c.) Which had no duplicates. 

II. Saxon and norman contributions. 
A. Norman. 

1. Words of dignity and royalty. 

2. " " luxury and the chase. 

3. " " chivalry and adornment. 

4. Names of meats prepared for the table. 


B. Saxon. 

1. Great features of nature. 

2. Social relations. 

3. The language of labor. 

4. Products of the soiL 

5. Names of living animals. 

III. Deductions from the composition of the Eng- 
lish TONGUE. 

i. That the Saxon was the inferior race. 

2. That it furnished the groundwork of our language. 


I. Arabic words. 

1. "Alchemy." 

2. "Alcohol." 

3. "Alembic." 

4. "Algebra." 

5. "Alkali." 

6. " Almanack." 

7. "Azimuth." 

8. "Cypher." 

9. "Elixir." 

10. "Magazine." 

11. "Nadir." 

12. "Tariff." 

13. "Zenith." 

14. "Zero." 

II. Origins of the monastic system in the greek 

1. "Anchorite." 

2. "Archimandrite." 

3. "Ascetic." 

4. "Cenobite." 

5. "Hermit." 

6. "Monastery." 

7. "Monk." 


III. THE ASIATICS before migration began. 

i. They were pastoral, but not agricultural. 

2. They had not the knowledge of working metals. 

3. The common stock was not small. 

(a.) Intellectual. 
(£.) Moral. 

IV. Harvests of historic lore garnered in single 

Examples — 

A. " Church^ 

1. Originally Greek. 

2. Passed from the Greek to the Goths on the 


3. Thence to the German tribes. 

4. And last to our Anglo-Saxon forefathers. 

B. "Pagan." "Paganism:' 

1. " Pagan" dwellers in villages. 

2. " civilians, not soldiers. 

3. " last to be Christianized. 

4. " applied to all heathens. 

5. " Heathen" has a similar history. 
Conclusions — 

1. The church first planted in cities. 

2. Its first complete triumphs there. 


I. "Sacrament." 

1. In Roman law, a deposit or pledge, 

2. A Roman military oath. 

3. Any solemn oath whatsoever. 

4. In the early Church any sacred rite. 

5. Limited use in later times. 

(a.) To the seven sacraments of the Church of 

(£.) To the two sacraments of the Protestant 



1. Baptism, an oath. 

2. The holy eucharist, a mystery. 

II. "Frank." 

1. France the crusading nation. 

2. Hence, the name given to all the warriors. 

III. "Miscreant." 

1. Grew out of the crusades. 

2. Meant at first simply " misbeliever." 

3. A term of reproach. 

IV. "Samaritan" and "assassin." 


I. The church. 
A. "Cardinal." 

1. An assumption of the Roman See. 

2. The See the hinge of the Church. 

3. The clergy " cardinales." 
B. " Legend." 

1. Original meaning. 

2. Later corruption. 

3. Final use. 


i. Who were termed " schoolmen." 

2. Why their works fell out of favor. 

3. Who held to the old learning. 

4. They were called " Dunsmen." 

5. Hence, " duns," " dunsery," " dunce.* 

6. The new learning made these titles. 


I. Injustice in " mammetry." 
II. The importance of giving right names. 

1. Influence of words on the world's history. 

2. " " " " opinions. 


III. Errors suggested by words. 

A. "Crystal." 

i. Error occasioned by the name. 

2. Confirmed by Pliny. 

3. Dissipated by Sir Thomas Browne. 

4. Explanation of the error. 

B. " Semitic " and " indo-european." 

C. " Leopard." 

1. Erroneously so called from the first 

2. Error propagated by the name. 

D. "Gothic." 

1 . Name coined after the Goths had died out. 

2. At first a name of contempt. 

3. Scornfully applied to architecture. 

E. Miscellaneous. 

1. " Classical." 

2. "Romantic." 

3. " Revival of learning." 

4. "Renaissance." 

5. "Unitarian." 

6. "Catholic." 

7. "Reformation." 


I. The rise of new :names from external acci- 

A. Selected. 

1. "Gnostics." 

2. "Cavaliers." 

B. Imposed and not accepted* 

1. " Quaker.* 1 

2. "Puritan." 

3. "Roundhead." 

C. Imposed and accepted. 

1. " Whig and Tory." 

2. "Lutheran." 


3. "Methodist." 

4. " Momiers." 

5. "Capuchin." 

6. "Gueux." 

7. "Premier." 
II. Instructive names. 

1. " Gnostic" and " gnosticism." 

2. " Orthodox" and " catholic." 

3. " Puritans." 

4. " Fifth-monarchy men." 

5. " Seekers." 

6. " Levellers. 

7. " Independents." 

8. "Friends." 

9. "Rationalists." 

10. " Latitudinarians." 

11. "Freethinkers." 


I. History of commerce in names. 

1. "Magnet" 

2. " Artesian." 

3. "Baldachin." 

4. "Bayonet. 

5. "Cambric." 

6. "Crape," etc. 

II. Fashions in names. 

1. "Cravat." 

2. "Biggen/ ; 

3. " Dalmatic," etc. 

III. Record oe traffic in nams& 

1. "Calico." 

2. " Muslin." 

3. "Parchment." 

4. " Indigo," etc. 


IV. Origins in names. 
i. "Sherry." 

2. "Spaniel." 

3. " Pheasant." 

4. "Currants." 

5. "Solecism*" 


I. Mythical and classical antiquity. 

1. "Chimerical." 

2. "Tantalize." 

3. " Herculean." 

4. " Mausoleum." 

5. "Academy." 

6. "Philippic." 

7. " Cicerone," etc 

II. Medieval times. 

1. "Vernicle." 

2. " Pantaloons." 

3. "Dunce." 

III. Modern times. 

1. " Chaucerisms. 

2. " Pasquinade." 

3. "Orrery." 

4. "Tontine." 

5. "Galvanism.* 

6. "Martinet." 

7. " Macadamize," etc. 

IV. Popular characters in books. 

A. Ancient. 

1. "Stentorian." 

2. " Hector," etc. 

B. Medieval and modern. 

1. " Pander." 

2. " Quixotic. 


3. " Liliputian." 

4. " Reynard," etc. 


I. Names embodying an error. 

1. "America." 

2. "Turkeys." 

3. "Pouletd'Inde." 

4. " Gipsy." 

5. "Bohemians." 

II. Errors suggested by the sound or spelling. 

1. " Domus," and " Dominus." 

2. "Jutland." 

3. "Aborigines." 

4. " Lyons." 

5. "Druid." 

6. "Jove." 

7. " Iapetus" and " Japheth." 

8. "God," and "good." 

III. Reaction of assumed derivation on spelling. 

1. "Hurricane." 

2. "Calamitas." 


I. Old customs in words. 

1. "Stipulation." 

2. "Curfew." 

3. " Limner." 

4. "Lumber." 

5. " Signing our name " and " subscribe.** 

6. "Calculation." 

7. "Expend." 

8. " Pecunia," " peculatus," " fee." 

9. " Library," " volume," " book," and " paper. H 


II. Arguments founded on etymologies : " fyrot.** 

III. Exploded theories in words. 

i. " Humor" : good, bad, and dry. 

2. "Temper." 

3. "Distemper." 

IV. Old faiths in words. 

A. Mythology. 

1. "Lubber." 

2. "Dwarf." 

3. "Oaf." 

4. "Droll." 

5. " Wight" 

6. " Urchin." 

7. " Hag." 

8. " Night-mare." 

9. " Changeling." 
10. " Wicked." 

B. Astrology. 

1. "JoviaL" 

2. " Saturnine." 

3. " Mercurial." 

4. "Disastrous." 

5. " Ill-starred." 

6. " Ascendency." 

C Speculations : " Quintessence." 
V. Old legends. 

1. "Sardonic." 

2. "Amethyst." 

I. Independent existence of word* 

1. "Journals." 

2. " Quarantine." 

3. "Decimated." 

4. " Sarcophagus." 

5. " Candles." 


6. " Rubrics." 

7. " Miniatures." 

8. "Surplice." 

9. "Stirrups." * 

10. "Haversack." 

11. "Barns." 

12. "Larders." 

13. " Costermonger." 

14. " Palaces," etc. 

II. Quaker scruples about words. 

1. Refusal to use heathen names. 

2. Substitution of numerals for the days of the 


A. Needless. 

1 . Because false worship had ceased. 

2. The names were disengaged from their etymol- 


B. Inconsistent. 

1. Because they use other words o* similar origin. 

(a.) "Charm." 
(b.) " Bewitch." 
(c.) "Fascinate." 
(d.) "Enchant." 
(<?.) "Lunatic." 
</.) " Panic." 
(g.) " Auguries," etc. 

2. Because such words are used if the Bible. 

(a.) " Interpreter." 
(b.) "Phoebe." 

III. Varying fortunes of words. 

1. " Marshals." 

2. "Aiderman." 

3. " Demoiselle." 

4. " Pope." 

5. "Queen." 

6. " Squatter." 

IV. Intellectual and spiritual currency of words. 


On the History in Words. 

What is said of language as a vehicle of knowledge ? 

How does it connect the past and present ? 

How is it superior to monuments, etc. ? 

How are philology and geology compared ? 

What example is given ? 

How is history reconstructed ? 

How did the Saxon and Norman languages stand related at 

How were they united ? 

What words survived in each ? 

How were the claims of the contending words settled ? 

What words lead us to conclude that the Norman was the 
ruling race ? 

What remarkable exception was there ? 

What does it prove ? 

Which words were of Saxon birth ? 

Give five classes of examples. 

What is the inference from this comparison of words ? 

Mention some words of Arabic origin. 

What does language prove in reference to the origin of the 
monastic system ? 


How do words stand related to the remote past f 

What is said about the Indo-European race ? 

How do we reach it ? 

On what class of words are our conclusions to be based. 

How do you prove that the Asiatic races had entered on the 
pastoral stage ? 

What is proved by the absence of the names of metals ? 

What is the testimony of words in reference to the common 
stock ? 

What is said of single words ? 

Give the history of " church," " pagan," and " paganism," 
" heathen." 

What instructive notices do we glean from these latter 
words ? 

Give miscellaneous examples of history in single words. 

Give an account of " sacrament," " Frank," " miscreant," 
" Samaritan," " assassin." 

What explanation is given of " cardinal " ? 

What is the history of " legend " ? 

What words were bequeathed by the schoolmen ? 

Give the history and fortunes of " dunce." 

What injustice is wrapped up in " Manometry ? " 

What is said about the importance of names ? 

What of the influence of words on opinions ? 

What is illustrated by " crystal " ? 

What legend is bound up in " leopard " ? " cockatrice " ? 

What is said of Eichhorn's " Semitic " ? " Indo-European " ? 

How is " Gothic " a misnomer ? 

What is said of " classical," " romantic," " revival of learn- 
ing," " renaissance " ? 

What is true of words for the chief objects and facts of our 

Illustrate this by the use of " Unitarians," " Catholics," 
" Reformation." 

What is urged in reference to the history of important bodies 
of men ? 

How should we investigate ? 

What is to be learned in reference to their names ? 


Give examples of names selected; of names devised by 
others, and not accepted ; of names applied by others, and 
subsequently received. 

What is said of " premier " ? 

Give examples of names which furnish a key to great sys- 

What do we learn from " orthodox " and " catholic " ? 

Give other significant titles of parties. 

Mention some names which contain a record of inventions 
and commerce ; of fashions ; of traffic ; of the origins of pro- 

What have authors, inventors, and discoverers bequeathed 

Enumerate some names from mythical antiquity ; medieval 
times ; modern times. 

Give examples of names drawn from books ; of names em- 
bodying and giving permanence to error ; of sound or spelling 
suggesting error ; of falsely assumed derivation reacting on 

What evidence have we of the conservative powers of lan- 
guage ? 

What custom is suggested by " stipulation " ? " curfew " ? 
" limner " ? " lumber " ? " signing our name " ? " paper * ? 
"calculation"? "expend"? "library"? 

Give an example of an etymology used for an argument 

Mention words containing traces of old and renounced the- 
ories ; deposits of old errors ; mythologies ; speculations ; 
and legends. 

What question is raised in reference to the original use of 
words ? 

Give examples of proper secondary meanings. 

What is said in reference to needless scruples about words ? 

What inconsistency would it lead to ? 

What argument is drawn from Scripture use of names ? 

What is said about the rise and fall of words ? 

What is true of titles of dignity ? Give examples. 

What is the conclusion of the lecture ? 


On the History in Words. 

i. Bumper. 

2. Buncombe. 

3. England. 

4. Emolument. 

5. Eureka. 

6. February. 

7. Garble. 

8. Gazette. 

9. Indian. 

10. Inoculation. 

11. Know-nothing. 

12. Laconic. 

13. Letter. 

14. Livery. 

15. Loco-foco. 

16. Lynch. 

17. Lymphatic. 

18. Manumit. 

19. Merino. 

2a Mesmerism. 

21. Money. 

22. Mormon. 

23. Mortgage. 

24. Municipal. 

25. Ordeal. 

26. Palladium. 

27. Procrustean. 

28. Recreant. 

29. Rubicon. 

30. Runic. 

31. Salary. 

32. Saunter. 

33. Saxon. 

34. Septuagint. 

35. Stoic. 

36. Tartar. 

37. University. 

38. Vaccination. 

39. Worship. 
4a Yankee. 



IF I do not much mistake, you will find it not 
a little interesting to follow great and signifi- 
cant words to the time and place of their birth. 
And not these alone. The same interest, though 
perhaps not in so high a degree, will cleave to 
the upcoming of words not a few that have never 
played a part so important in the world's story. 
A volume might be written such as few would 
rival in curious interest, which should do no more 
*han indicate the occasion upon which new words, 
9r old words employed in a new sense — being such 
words as the world subsequently heard much of— 
first appeared ; with quotation, where advisable, of 
the passages in proof. A great English poet, too 
early lost, ' the young Marcellus of our tongue/ as 
Dryden so finely calls him, has very grandly de- 
scribeti the emotion of 

* some watcher of the skies, 
When a new planet swims into his ken. 9 

Not very different will be our feeling, as we watch, 
at the moment of its rising above the horizon, some 
word destined, it may be, to play its part in the 
world's story, to take its place for ever among the 


luminaries in the moral and intellectual firmament 
above us. 

But a caution is necessary here. We must not 
regard as certain in every case, or indeed in most 
cases, that the first rise of a word will have exactly 
consented in time with its first appearance within 
the range of our vision. Such identity will some- 
times exist; and we may watch the actual birth 
of some word, and may affirm with confidence that 
at such a time and on such an occasion it first saw 
the light — in this book, or from the lips of that 
man. Of another we can only say, About this 
time and near about this spot it first came into being, 
for we first meet it in such an author and under 
such and such conditions. So mere a fragment of 
ancient literature has come down to us, that, 
while the earliest appearance there of a word is 
still most instructive to note, it cannot in all or in 
nearly all cases be affirmed to mark the exact 
moment of its nativity. And even in the modern 
world we must in most instances be content to fix 
a period, we may perhaps add a local habitation, 
within the limits of which the term must have been 
born, either in legitimate scientific travail, or the 
child of some flash of genius, or the product of some 
generatio (Bquivoca y the necessary result of exciting 
predisposing causes; at the same time seeking by 
further research ever to narrow more and more the 
limits within which this must have happened. 

To speak first of words religious and ecclesiastical. 
Very noteworthy, and in some sort epoch-making, 
must be regarded the first appearance of the fol- 


lowing: — • Christian ' ; * ' Trinity ' ; * ' Catholic/ as 
applied to the Church ; * ' canonical ' as a distinctive 
title of the received Scriptures ; 4 * New Testament/ 
as describing the complex of the sacred books of 
the New Covenant ; B * Gospels/ as applied to the 
four inspired records of the life and ministry of our 
Lord. 6 We notice, too, with interest, the first 
coming up of ' monk ' and ' nun/ 7 marking as they 
do the beginnings of the monastic system ; — of 
4 transubstantiation/ 8 of 4 concomitance/ 9 express- 
ing as does this word the grounds on which the 
medieval Church defended communion in one kind 
only for the laity ; of 4 limbo ' in its theological 
sense ; w witnessing as these do to the consolidation 
of errors which had long been floating in the 

Not of so profound an interest, but still very in- 
structive to note, is the earliest apparition of 
names historical and geographical, above all of 
such as have since been often on the lips of men ; 

1 Acts »• 26 - » Tertullian, Adv. Prax. 3. 

8 Ignatius, Ad Smyrn. 8. 

« Origen, Opp. vol. iii. p. 36 (ed. De la Rue). 

• Tertullian, Adv. Marc. iv. 1; Adv. Prax. xv. 20. 

• Justin Martyr, Apol. i. 66. 

"Nun' (norma) first appears in Jerome {Ad Eustooh. Ep. 22); 

•monk' (monachus) a little earlier: Rutilius, a Latin versifier of the 

fiftk century, who still clung to the old Paganism, gives the derivation: 

Ipsi se monachos Graio cognomine dicunt, 

Quod soli nullo vivere teste volutrt. 

• Hildebert, Archbishop of Tours (f 1134), is the first to use it (Serm. 

• Thomas Aquinas is reported to have been the first to use this word. 

• Thomas Aquinas first employs « limbus ' in this sense. 


as the first mention in books of ' Asia ' ; l of • India' ; * 
of ' Europe ' ; * of Macedonia ' ; 4 of ' Greeks * ; 5 of 
1 Germans ' and ' Germany ' ; 6 of ' Alemanni ' ; ' of 
' Franks ' ; 8 of ' Prussia ' and « Prussians ' ; • of ' Nor- 
mans ' ; 10 the earliest notice by any Greek author 
of Rome ; " the first use of ' Italy ' as comprehend- 
ing the entire Hesperian peninsula; 1 * of 'Asia 
Minor* to designate Asia on this side Taurus." 
' Madagascar ' may hereafter have a history, which 
will make it interesting to know that this name 
was first given, so far as we can trace, by Marco 
Polo to the huge African island. Neither can we 
regard with indifference the first giving to the new- 
ly-discovered continent in the West the name of 
' America ' ; and still less should we Englishmen 
fail to take note of the date when this island ex- 
changed its earlier name of Britain for * England ' ; 
or again, when it resumed 'Great Britain* as its 

1 iEschylus, Prometheus Vinctus, 412. 

» Id. Suppl. 282. a Herodotus, iv. 36. « Id. v. 17. 

• Aristotle, Meteor, i. 14. But his rpatxot are only an insignificant 
tribe, near Dodona. How it came to pass that Graeci, or Graii, was the 
Latin name by which all the Hellenes were known, must always remain 
a mystery. 

• Probably first in the Commentaries of Caesar; see Grimm, Gesch. d. 
Deutschen Sprache, p. 773. 

7 Spartian, Caracalla, c. 9. 

• Vopiscus, Aurei. 7; about A.D. 240. 

• * Pruzia ' and « Pruzzi ' first appear in the Life of S. Adalbert, 
written by his fellow-laborer Gaudentius, between 997-1006. 

10 The Geographer of Ravenna. 

» Probably in Hellanicus, a contemporary of Herodotus. 
" In the time of Augustus Caesar; see Niebuhr, History of Reme i 
Engl. Translation, vol. i. p. 12. 
» Orosius, i. 2: in the fifth century of our era. 


official designation. So also, to confirm our asser- 
tion by examples from another quarter, it cannot 
be unprofitable to mark the exact moment at which 
' tyrant ' and ' tyranny,' forming so distinct an epoch 
as this did in the political history of Greece, first 
appeared ; * or again, when, and from whom, the 
fabric of the external universe first received the 
title of ' cosmos/ or beautiful order ; t a name not 
new in itself, but new in this application of it ; with 
much more of the same kind. 

Let us go back to one of the words just named 
and inquire what may be learned from acquaintance 
with the time and place of its first appearance. It 
is one the coming up of which has found special 
record in the Book of life : ' The disciples/ as St. 
Luke expressly tells us, 'were called Christians 

* In the writings of Archilochus, about 700 B.C. A * tyrant ' was not 
for Greeks a bad king, who abused a rightful position to purposes of 
lust or cruelty or other wrong. It was of the essence of a ' tyrant ' that 
he had attained supreme dominion through a violation of the laws and 
liberties of the state; having done which, whatever the moderation of his 
after-rule, he would not escape the name. Thus the mUd and bounte- 
ous Pisistratus was * tyrant ' of Athens, while a Christian II. of Denmark, 
* the Nero of the North,' would not in Greek eyes have been one. It 
was to their honor that they did not allow the course of the word to be 
arrested or turned aside by occasional or partial exceptions in the manner 
of the exercise of this ill-gotten dominion; but in the hateful secondary 
sense which « tyrant » with them acquired, and which has passed over 
to us, the moral conviction, justified by all experience, spake out, that 
the ill-gotten would be ill-kept; that the « tyrant* in the earlier sense of 
the word, dogged by suspicion, fear, and an evil conscience, must, by 
an almost inevitable law, become a « tyrant ' in our later sense of the 

t Pythagoras, born B.C. 570, is said to have been the first who made 
this application of the word. For much of interest on its history see 
Humboldt, JCosmos, 1846. English edit., vol. i. p. 371. 


first in Antioch ' (Acts xi. 26). That we have here 
a notice which we would not willingly have missed 
all will acknowledge, even as nothing can be other- 
wise than curious which relates to the infancy of the 
Church. But there is here much more than an in- 
teresting notice. Question it a little closer, and 
how much it will be found to contain, how much 
which it is waiting to yield up. What light it 
throws on the whole story of the apostolic Church 
to know where and when this name of ' Christians ' 
was first imposed on the faithful ; for imposed by 
adversaries it certainly was, not devised by them- 
selves, however afterwards they may have learned 
to glory in it as the name of highest dignity and 
honor. They did not call themselves, but, as is ex- 
pressly recorded, they 'were called/ Christians first 
at Antioch ; in agreement with which statement, 
the name occurs nowhere in Scripture, except on 
the lips of those alien from, or opposed to, the faith 
(Acts xxvi. 28 ; 1 Pet. iv. 16). And as it was a 
name imposed by adversaries, so among these 
adversaries it was plainly heathens, and not Jews, 
who were its authors ; for Jews would never have 
called the followers of Jesus of Nazareth, ' Chris- 
tians,' or those of Christ, the very point of their 
opposition to Him being, that He was not the 
Christ, but a false pretender to the name * 
Starting then from this point, that 'Christians' 

* Compare Tacitus (Anna/, xv. 24): Quos valgus . . . Christianos 
appellabat. It is curious too that, although a Greek word and coined 
in a Greek city, the termination is Latin. XptdnavoS is formed oq 
the model of Romanus, Albanus, Pompeianus, and the like. 


was a title given to the disciples by the heathen % 
what may we deduce from it further ? At Antioch 
they first obtained this name — at the city, that is, 
which was the head-quarters of the Church's mis- 
sions to the heathen, in the same sense as Jerusa- 
lem had been the head-quarters of the mission to 
the seed of Abraham. It was there, and among 
the faithful there, that a conviction of the world- 
wide destination of the Gospel arose ; there it was 
first plainly seen as intended for all kindreds of the 
earth. Hitherto the faithful in Christ had been 
called by their adversaries, and indeed often were 
still called, ' Galileans/ or * Nazarenes/ — both 
names which indicated the Jewish cradle wherein 
the Church had been nursed, and that the world 
saw in the new Society no more than a Jewish sect. 
But it was plain that the Church had now, even in 
the world's eyes, chipped its Jewish shell. The 
name ' Christians/ or those of Christ, while it told 
that Christ and the confession of Him was felt even 
by the heathen to be the sum and centre of this 
new faith, showed also that they comprehended 
now, not all which the Church would be, but some- 
thing of this ; saw this much, namely, that it was 
no mere sect and variety of Judaism, but a Society 
with a mission and a destiny of its own. Nor will 
the thoughtful reader fail to observe that the com- 
ing up of this name is by closest juxtaposition 
connected in the sacred narrative, and still more 
closely in the Greek than in the English, with the 
arrival at Antioch, and with the preaching there, 
of that Apostle, who was God's appointed instru- 


ment for bringing the Church to a full sense that 
the message which it had, was not for some men 
only, but for all. As so often happens with the 
rise of new names, the rise of this one marked a 
new epoch in the Church's life, and that it was 
entering upon a new stage of its development.* It 
is a small matter, yet not without its own sig- 
nificance, that the invention of this name is laid by 
St. Luke, —for so, I think, we may confidently say, 
—to the credit of the Antiochenes. Now the idle, 
frivolous, and witty inhabitants of the Syrian capital 
were noted in all antiquity for the invention of nick- 
names ; it was a manufacture for which their city 
was famous. And thus it was exactly the place 
where beforehand we might have expected that 
such a title, being a nickname or little better in 
their mouths who devised it should first come into 

This one example is sufficient to show that new 
words will often repay any amount of attention 
which we may bestow upon them, and upon the 

* Renan (Les Apbtres, pp. 233-236) has much instruction on this 
matter. I quote a few words; though even in them the spirit in which 
the whole book is conceived does not fail to make itself felt: L'heure ou 
une creation nouvelle recoit son nom est solennelle; car le nom est le 
signe dtfnitif de l'existence. C'est par le nom qu'un etre individuel ou 
collectif devient lui-meme, et sort d'un autre. La formation du mot 
« Chretien ' margue ainsi la date precise ou l'Eglise de Jesus se separadu 
judalsme. . . . Le christianisme est completement detach* du sein de 
sa mere; la vraie pensee de Jfeus a triomph* de l'indecision de ses pre- 
miers disciples; l'Eglise de Jerusalem est depassee; 1' Ararn&n, la langue 
de T&us, est inconnue a une partie de son ecole; le christianisme parle 
grec; il est lane* dtfinitivement dans le grand tourbillon du rnond* 
grec et romain; d'ou il ne sortira plus. 


conditions under which they were born. I proceed 
to consider the causes which suggest or necessitate 
their birth, the periods when a language is most 
fruitful in them, the sources from which they usually 
proceed, with some other interesting phenomena 
about them. 

And first of the causes which give them birth. 
Now of all these causes the noblest is this — namely, 
that in the appointments of highest Wisdom there 
are epochs in the world's history, in which, more 
than at other times, new moral and spiritual forces 
are at work, stirring to their central depths the 
hearts of men. When it thus fares with a people, 
they make claims on their language which were 
never made on it before. It is required to utter 
truths, to express ideas, remote from it hitherto ; 
for which therefore the adequate expression will 
naturally not be forthcoming at once, these new 
thoughts and feelings being larger and deeper than 
any wherewith hitherto the speakers of that tongue 
had been familiar. It fares with a language then, 
as it would fare with a river bed, suddenly required 
to deliver a far larger volume of waters than had 
hitherto been its wont. It would in such a case be 
nothing strange, if the waters surmounted their 
banks, broke forth on the right hand and on the 
left, forced new channels with a certain violence for 
themselves. Something of the kind they must do. 
Now it was exactly thus that it fared — for there 
could be no more illustrious examples — with the 
languages of Greece and Rome, when it was 


demanded of them that they should be vehicles of 
the truths of revelation. 

These languages, as they already existed, might 
have sufficed, and did suffice, for heathenism, sen- 
suous and finite ; but they did not suffice for the 
spiritual and infinite, for the truths at once so new 
and so mighty which claimed now to find utterance 
in the language of men. And thus it continually 
befel, that the new thought must weave a new 
garment for itself, those which it found ready made 
being narrower than that it could wrap itself in 
them ; that the new wine must fashion new vessels 
for itself, if both should be preserved, the old being 
neither strong enough, nor expansive enough, to 
hold it.* Thus, not to speak of mere technical 
matters, which would claim an utterance, how 
could the Greek language possess a word for 
4 idolatry/ so long as the sense of the awful contrast 
between the worship of the living God and of dead 
things had not risen up in their minds that spoke 
it ? But when Greek began to be the native lan- 
guage of men, to whom this distinction between the 
Creator and the creature was the most earnest and 
deepest conviction of their souls, words such as 
'idolatry/ 'idolater/ of necessity appeared. The 
heathen did not claim for their deities to be 
1 searchers of hearts/ did not disclaim for them the 
being ' accepters of persons ' ; such attributes of 

* Renan, speaking on this matter, says of the early Christians: La 
langue lenr faisait dlfaut. Le Grec et le Semitique les trahissaient 
egalement. De la cette enorme violence que le Christianisme naissant 
fit aulangage (Les Apbtres> p. 71). 


power and righteousness entered not into their 
minds as pertaining to the objects of their worship. 
The Greek language, therefore, so long as they only 
employed it, had not the words corresponding.* 
It, indeed, could not have had them, as the Jewish 
Hellenistic Greek could not be without them. 
How useful a word is • theocracy ' ; what good 
service it has rendered in presenting a certain idea 
clearly and distinctly to the mind ; yet where, 
except in the bosom of the same Jewish Greek, 
could it have been born ? t 

These difficulties, which were felt the most 
strongly when the thought and feeling that had 
been at home in the Hebrew, the original language 
of inspiration, needed to be transferred into Greek, 
reappeared, though not in quite so aggravated a 
form, when that which had gradually woven for 
itself in the Greek an adequate clothing, again de- 
manded to find a suitable garment in the Latin. 
An example of the difficulty, and of the way in 
which the difficulty was ultimately overcome, will 
illustrate this far better than long disquisitions. 
The classical language of Greece had a word for 
1 saviour,' which, though often degraded to unworthy 
uses, bestowed as a title of honor not merely on the 
false gods of heathendom, but sometimes on men, 
such as better deserved to be styled 'destroyers' 
than ' saviours ' of their fellows, was yet in itself not 
unequal to the setting forth the central office and 
dignity of Him, who came into the world to save it. 

* npodooieoXijicrrjS, xapdioyvoodryf. 

f We preside at its birth in a passage of Josephus, Con. Apion. ii. 16. 


The word might be likened to some profaned tem- 
ple, which needed a new consecration, but not to 
be abolished, and another built in its room. With 
the Latin it was otherwise. The language seemed 
to lack a word, which on one account or another 
Christians needed continually to utter : indeed Cic- 
ero, than whom none could know better the re- 
sources of his own tongue, remarkably enough had 
noted its want of any single equivalent to the Greek 
•saviour.'* 'Salvator' would have been the nat- 
ural word ; but the classical Latin of the best times, 
though it had ' salus ' and ' salvus,' had neither this 
nor the verb ' salvare ' ; some, indeed, have thought 
that ' salvare ' had always existed in the common 
speech. ' Servator ' was instinctively felt to be in- 
sufficient, even as ' Preserver ' would for us fall very 
short of uttering all which 'Saviour.' does now. 
The seeking of the strayed, the recovery of the lost, 
the healing of the sick, would all be but feebly and 
faintly suggested by it, if suggested at all. God 
' preserveth man and beast,' but He is the • Saviour' 
of his own in a more inward and far more endearing 
sense. It was long before the Latin Christian 
writers extricated themselves from this embarrass- 
ment, for the ' Salutificator ' of Tertullian, the * Sos- 
pitator ' of another, assuredly did not satisfy the 
need. The strong good sense of Augustine finally 
disposed of the difficulty. He made no scruple 
about using ' Salvator ' ; observing with a true in- 
sight into the conditions under which new words 

* Hoc [6ooTtfp\ quantum est? ita magnum ut Latine uno verb* 
exprimi non possit 


should be admitted, that however * Salvator ' might 
not have been good Latin before the Saviour came, 
He by his coming and by the work had made it 
such ; for, as shadows wait upon substances, so 
words wait upon things.* Take another example. 
It seemed so natural a thing, in the old heathen 
world, to expose infants, where it was not found 
convenient to rear them, the crime excited so little 
remark, was so little regarded as a crime at all, that 
it seemed not worth the while to find a name for it ; 
and thus it came to pass that the word ' infanticid- 
ium' was first born in the bosom of the Christian 
Church, Tertullian being the earliest in whose writ- 
ings it appears. 

Yet it is not only when new truth, moral or 
spiritual, has thus to fit itself to the lips of men, 

* Serm. 299. 6: Christus Jesus, id est Christus Salvator: hoc est enim 
Latine Jesus. Nee quaerant grammatici quam sit Latinum, sed Chris- 
tian!, quam verum. Salus enim Latinum nomen est; salvare et salvator 
non fuerunt hsec Latina, antequam veniret Salvator: quando ad Latinos 
venit, et hsec Latina fecit. Cf. De Trin. 13. 10: Quod verbum [salva- 
tor] Latina lingua antea non habebat, sed habere poterat; sicut potuit 
quando voluit. Other words which we owe to Christian Latin, prob- 
ably to the Vulgate or to the earlier Latin translations, are these— 
'carnalis,' 'clarinc©,' < compassio, , * deltas' (Augustine, Civ. Da., 7. 
1), 'glorifico/ * idolol atria,' 'incarnatio,' 'justifico,' ' justification 
' longanimitas,' 'mortifico,' 'magnalia,' •mundicors,' 'passio,' 'prae- 
destinatio,' <refrigerium ' (Ronsch, Vulgata, p. 321), 'regeneration 
'resipiscentia,' 'revelatio,' « sanctificatio,' ' soliloquium,' ( sufficientia/ 
'supererogatio,' 'tribulatio.' Many of these may seem barbarous to 
the Latin scholar, but there is hardly one of them which does not im- 
ply a new thought, or a new feeling, or the sense of a new relation of 
man to God or to his fellow-man. Strange too and significant that 
heathen Latin could get as fur as 'peccare' and *peccatum,' but 
stopped short of *peccator ' and 'peccatrix.' 


that such enlargements of speech become neces- 
sary : but in each further unfolding of those seminal 
truths implanted in man at the first, in each new 
enlargement of his sphere of knowledge, outward 
or inward, the same necessities make themselves 
felt. The beginnings and progressive advances of 
moral philosophy in Greece,* the transplantation of 
the same to Rome, the rise of the scholastic, and then 
of the mystic, theology in the Middle Ages, the 
discoveries of modern science and natural philosophy, 
these each and all have been accompanied with 
corresponding extensions in the domain of lan- 
guage. Of the words to which each of these has 
in turn given birth, many, it is true, have never 
travelled beyond their own peculiar sphere, having 
remained purely technical, or scientific, or theolog- 
ical to the last ; but many, too, have passed over 
from the laboratory and the school, from the clois- 
ter and the pulpit, into everyday use, and have, 
with the ideas which they incorporate, become the 
common heritage of all. For however hard and 
repulsive a front any study or science may present 
to the great body of those who are as laymen in 
regard of it, there is yet inevitably such a detrition 
as this continually going forward, and one which it 
would be well worth while to trace in detail. 

Where the movement is a popular one, stirring 
the heart and mind of a people to its depths, there 
these new words will for the most part spring out 
of their bosom, a free spontaneous birth, seldom or 
never capable of being referred to one man more 

* See Lobeck, PhrynUhus, p. 35a 


than another, because in a manner they belong to 
all. Where, on the contrary, the movement is 
more strictly theological, or has for its sphere those 
regions of science and philosophy, where, as first 
pioneers and discoverers, only a few can bear their 
part, there the additions to the language and exten- 
sions of it will lack something of the freedom, the un- 
conscious boldness, which mark the others. Their 
character will be more artificial, less spontaneous, 
although here also the creative genius of a single 
man, as there of a nation, will oftentimes set its 
mark ; and many a single word will come forth, 
which will be the result of profound meditation, or 
of intuitive genius, or of both in happiest combina- 
tion — many a word, which shall as a torch illumi- 
nate vast regions comparatively obscure before, and 
it may be, cast its rays far into the yet unexplored 
darkness beyond ; or which, summing up into itself 
all the acquisitions in a particular direction of the 
past, shall furnish a mighty vantage-ground from 
which to advance to new conquests in those realms 
of mind or of nature, not as yet subdued to the in- 
tellect and uses of man. 

1 Cosmopolite ' has often now a shallow or even a 
mischievous use ; and he who calls himself a * cos- 
mopolite ' may mean no more than that he is not a 
patriot, that his native country does not possess his 
love. Yet, as all must admit, he could have been 
no common man who, before the preaching of the 
Gospel, launched this word upon the world, and 
claimed this name for himself. Nor was he a com- 
mon man ; for Diogenes the Cynic, whose sayings 


are among quite the most notable in antiquity, was 
its author. Being demanded of what city or coun- 
try he was, Diogenes answered that he was a ' cos- 
mopolite ' ; in this word widening the range of 
men's thoughts, bringing in not merely a word new to 
Greek ears, but a thought which, however common- 
place and familiar to us now, must have been mpst 
novel and startling to those whom he addressed. I 
am far from asserting that contempt for his citizen- 
ship in its narrower sense may not have mingled with 
this his challenge for himself of a citizenship wide 
as the world ; but there was not the less a very 
remarkable reaching out here after truths which 
were not fully born into the world until He came, 
in whom and in whose Church all national differ- 
ences and distinctions are done away. 

As occupying somewhat of a middle place be- 
tween those more deliberate word -makers and the 
multitude whose words rather grow of themselves 
than are made, we must not omit him who is a 
maker by the very right of his name — I mean, the 
poet. That creative energy with which he is en- 
dowed, • the high-flying liberty of conceit proper to 
the poet/ will not fail to manifest itself in this 
region as in others. Extending the domain of 
thought and feeling, he will scarcely fail to extend 
that also of language, which does not willingly lag 
behind. And the loftier his moods, the more of 
this maker he will be. The passion of such times, 
the all-fusing imagination, will at once suggest 
and justify audacities in speech, upon which in 
calmer moods he would not have ventured, or 


venturing, would have failed to carry others with 
him : for it is only the fluent metal that runs easily 
into novel shapes and moulds. Nor is it merely 
that the old and the familiar will often become 
new in the poet's hands; that he will give the stamp 
of allowance, as to him will be free to do, to words 
which hitherto have lived only on the lips of the 
people, or been confined to some single dialect 
and province ; but he will enrich his native tongue 
with words unknown and non-existent before — 
non-existent, that is, save in their elements ; for in 
the historic period of a language it is not permitted 
to any man to do more than work on pre-existent 
materials ; to evolve what is latent therein, to 
combine what is apart, to recall what has fallen out 
of sight. 

But to return to the more deliberate coining of 
words. New necessities have within the last few 
years called out several of these deliberate creations 
in our own language. The almost simultaneous 
discovery of such large abundance of gold in so 
many quarters of the world led some nations so 
much to dread an enormous depreciation of this 
metal, that they ceased to make it the standard of 
value — Holland for instance did so for a while, 
though she has since changed her mind ; and it 
has been found convenient to invent a word, ' to 
demonetize/ to express this process of turning a 
precious metal from being the legal standard into 
a mere article of commerce. So, too, diplomacy 
has recently added more than one new word to 
our vocabulary. I suppose nobody ever heard of 


4 extradition ' till within the last few years ; nor of 
* neutralization/ except, it might be, in some trea- 
tise upon chemistry, till in the treaty of peace 
which followed the Crimean War the ' neutraliza- 
tion ' of the Black Sea was made one of the stip- 
ulations. ' Secularization/ in like manner, owes 
its birth to the long and weary negotiations 
which preceded the Treaty of Westphalia (1648). 
Whenever it proved difficult to find anywhere else 
compensation for some powerful claimant, there 
was always some abbey or bishopric which with its 
revenues might be seized, stripped of its ecclesias- 
tical character, and turned into a secular possession. 
Our manifold points of contact with the East, the 
necessity that has thus arisen of representing orien- 
tal words to the western world by means of an al- 
phabet not its own, with the manifold discussions 
on the fittest equivalents, all this has brought with 
it the need of a word which should describe the 
process, and ' transliteration ' is the result. 

We have long had ' assimilation ' in our diction- 
aries ; ' dissimilation ' has as yet scarcely found its 
way into them, but it speedily will. [It has already 
appeared in our books on language.*] Advances 
in philology have rendered it a matter of necessity 
that we should possess a term to designate a cer- 
tain process which words unconsciously undergo, 
and no other would designate it at all so well. There 
is a process of * assimilation ' going on very exten- 
sively in language ; the organs of speech finding 

• See Skeat's Etym. Diet. (s. v. truffle). Pott (Etym. Forsch, vol. 
& p. 65) introduced the word ' dissimilation ' into German. 


themselves helped by changing one letter for an- 
other which has just occurred, or will just occur in 
a word ; thus we say not ' a^iance, ' but • a^iance,' 
not ' re«oww,' as our ancestors did when ' renom ' 
was first naturalized, but ' re«ow« ' ; we say too, 
though we do not write it, ' cupboard ' and not 
' cu/board,' * subtle ' and not ' subtle.' But side by 
side with this there is another opposite process, 
where some letter would recur too often for euphony 
or ease in speaking, were the strict form of the 
word too closely held fast ; and where consequent- 
ly this letter is exchanged for some other, gener- 
ally for some nearly allied ; thus ' caeruleus ' was 
once ' cae/uleus/ from caelum * ; ' meridies ' is for 
' medfidies,' or medius dies. In the same way the 
Italians prefer ' ve/eno ' to ' veweno ' ; the Germans 
£artoffel ' to ' tertuffel/ from Italian « tartufola '= 
Latin terrae tuber, an old name of the potato ; and 
we ' cinnamon ' to 'cinnamon' (the earlier form). 
So too in ' turtle/ ' marble/ ' purple/ we have shrunk 
from the double *r' of turtur/ ' marmor/ 'pur- 
pura.' t 

New necessities, new evolutions of society into 
more complex conditions, evoke new words ; which 
come forth, because they are required now ; but did 
not formerly exist, because in an anterior period 
they were not required. For example, in Greece so 
long as the poet sang his own verses, 'singer' 

* [The connection of cceruleus with ccelum is not at all certain.] 

f See Dwight, Modern Philology, 2nd Series, p. 100; Heyse, 

System der Sprackwis sense haft, § 139-141; and Peile, Introduction to 

Greek and Latin Etymology, pp. 357-379. 


(aoidds) sufficiently expressed the double function; 
such a ' singer ' was Homer, and such Homer de- 
scribes Demodocus, the bard of the Phaeacians; that 
double function, in fact, not being in his time contem- 
plated as double, but each of its parts so naturally 
completing the other, that no second word was re- 
quired. When, however, in the division of labor 
one made the verses which another chaunted, then 
• poet ' or • maker/ a word unknown to the Homer- 
ic age, arose. In like manner, when 4 physicians ' 
were the only natural philosophers, the word cov- 
ered this meaning as well as that other which it 
still retains; but when the investigation of nature 
and natural causes detached itself from the art 
of healing, became an independent study, the 
name ' physician ' remained to that which was as 
the stock and stem of the art, while the new off- 
shoot sought out and obtained a new name for 

But it is not merely new things which will re- 
quire new names. It will often be discovered 
that old things have not got a name at all, or, 
having one, are compelled to share it with some- 
thing else, often to the serious embarrassment of 
both. The manner in which men become aware 
of such deficiencies, is commonly this. Compar- 
ing their own language with another, and in 
some aspects a richer, compelled, it may be, to 
such comparison through having undertaken to 
transfer treasures of that language into their own, 
they become conscious of much worthy to be 


uttered in human speech, and plainly utterable 
therein, since another language has found utter- 
ance for it ; but which hitherto has found no 
voice in their own. Hereupon with more or less 
success they proceed to supply the deficiency. 
Hardly in any other way would the wants in this 
way revealed make themselves felt even by the 
most thoughtful; for language is to so large an ex- 
tent the condition and limit of thought, men are so 
little accustomed, indeed so little able, to contem- 
plate things, except through the intervention, and 
by the machinery, of words, that the absence of 
words from a language almost necessarily brings 
with it the absence of any sense of that absence. 
Here is one advantage of acquaintance with other 
languages besides our own, and of the institution 
that will follow, if we have learned those other to 
any profit, of such comparisons, namely, that we 
thus become aware that names are not, and least 
of all the names in any one language, co-extensive 
with things (and by ' things ' I mean subjects as 
well as objects of thought, whatever one can think 
about), that innumerable things and aspects of 
things exist, which though capable of being re- 
sumed and connoted in a word, are yet without one 
unnamed and unregistered ; and thus, vast as may 
be the world of names, that the world of realities, 
and of realities which are namable, is vaster still. 
Such discoveries the Romans made, when they 
sought to transplant the moral philosophy of 
Greece to an Italian soil. They discovered that 
many of its terms had no equivalents with them ; 


which equivalents thereupon they proceeded to de- 
vise for themselves, appealing for this to the latent 
capabilities of their own tongue. For example, the 
Greek schools had a word, and one playing no un- 
important part in some of their philosophical systems 
to express ' apathy,' or the absence of all passion 
and pain. As it was absolutely necessary to pos- 
sess a corresponding word, Cicero invented * indo- 
lentia/ as that ' if I may so speak ' with which he 
paves the way to his first introduction of it, suffi- 
ciently declares.* 

Sometimes, indeed, such a skilful mint-master of 
words, such a subtle watcher and weigher of their 
force as was Cicero,t will have noticed even apart 
from this comparison with other languages, an 
omission in his own, which thereupon he will en- 
deavor to supply. Thus the Latin had two adjec- 
tives which, though not kept apart as strictly as 
they might have been, possessed each its peculiar 
meaning, ' invidus/ one who is envious, * invidiosus,' 
one who excites envy in others ; X at the same time 
there was only one substantive, ' invidia/ the cor- 
relative of them both ; with the disadvantage, there- 
fore, of being employed now in an active, now in a 
passive sense, now for the envy which men feel, and 
now for the envy which they excite. The word he 
saw was made to do double duty ; under a seeming 

* Fin. ii. 4; and for 'qualitas* see Acad. i. 6. 
f Ule verborum vigilantissimus appensor ac mensor, as Augustint 
happily terms him. 
\ Thus the monkish line: 

Invidiosus ego, non invidus esse laboro. 


unity there lurked a real dualism, from which man- 
ifold confusions might follow. He therefore devised 
4 invidentia,' to express the active envy, or the en- 
vying, no doubt desiring that * invidia ' should be 
restrained to the passive, the being envied. ' In- 
videntia ' to all appearance supplied a real want ; 
yet Cicero himself did not succeed in giving it cur- 
rency ; does not seem himself to have much cared 
to employ it again.* 

We see by this example that not every word 
which even an expert in language proposes, finds 
acceptance ; t for, as Dryden, treating on this sub- 
ject, has well observed, ' It is one thing to draw a 
bill, and another to have it accepted/ Provided 
some words live, he must be content that others 
should fall to the ground and die. Nor is this the 
only unsuccessful candidate for admission into the 
language which Cicero put forward. His ' indo- 
lentia/ which I mentioned just now, hardly passed 
beyond himself ; t his * vitiositas,' § * indigentia/ II 

* Tusc. iii. 9; iv. 8; cf. DOderlein, Synon. vol. iii. p. 68. 

f Quintilian's advice, based on this fact is good (i. 6. 42): Etiamsi 
potest nihil peccare, qui utitur lis verbis quae summi auctores tradi- 
derunt, multum tamen refert non solum quid dixerint % sed etiam quid 
persuaserint. He himself, as he informs us, invented •vocalitas' to 
correspond with the Greek evqxovia (Instit. i. 5. 24), but I am not 
conscious that he found any imitators here. 

J Thus Seneca a little later is unaware, or has forgotten, that Cicero 
made any such suggestion. Taking no notice of it, he proposes 
' impatientia ' as an adequate rendering of dxaBsia. There clung 
this inconvenience to the word, as he himself allowed, that ic was 
already used in exactly the opposite sense (Ep. 9). Elsewhere he 
claims to be the inventor of 'essentia * (Ep. 38). 

§ Tusc. iv. 15. II Ibid. iv. 9. 21. 


and ' mulierositas/ * not at all. ' Beatitas ' too and 
' beatitudo/ t both of his coining, yet, as he owns 
himself, with something strange and unattractive 
about them, found almost no acceptance at all in 
the classical literature of Rome : ' beatitudo/ in- 
deed, obtained a home, as it deserved to do, in the 
Christian Church, but ' beatitas ' none. Coleridge's 
4 esemplastic,' by which he was fain to express the 
all-atoning or unifying power of the imagination, 
has not pleased others at all in the measure in which 
it pleased himself; while the words of Jeremy Tay- 
lor, of such Latinists as Sir Thomas Browne and 
Henry More, born only to die, are multitudinous as 
the fallen leaves of autumn.^ Still even the word 
which fails is often an honorable testimony to the 
scholarship, or the exactness of thought, or the im- 
agination of its author ; and Ben Jonson is over- 
hard on ' neologists,' if I may bring this term back 
to its earlier meaning, when he says : ' A man coins 
not a new word without some peril, and less fruit ; 
for if it happen to be received, the praise is but mod- 
erate ; if refused, the scorn is assured.' § 

I spoke just now of comprehensive words, which 
should singly say what hitherto it had taken many 
words to say, in which a higher term has been 
reached than before had been attained. The value 
of these is incalculable. By the cutting short of 
lengthy explanations and tedious circuits of lan- 

* find, iv. 11. f Nat. Dear. I 34. 

J See my English Past and Present, 13th edit. p. 113. 
{ Therefore the maxim: 

Moribus antiquis, presentibus utere verbis. 


guage, they facilitate mental processes, such as would 
often have been nearly or quite impossible with- 
out them ; and such as have invented or put these 
into circulation, are benefactors of a high order to 
knowledge. In the ordinary traffic of life, unless 
our dealings are on the smallest scale, we will- 
ingly have about us our money in the shape rather 
of silver than of copper ; and if our transactions are 
at all extensive, rather in gold than in silver : 
while, if we were setting forth upon a long and 
costly journey, we should be best pleased to turn 
even our gold coin itself into bills of exchange or 
circular notes ; in fact, into the highest denomina- 
tion of money which it was capable of assuming. 
How many words with which we are now perfectly 
familiar are for us what the circular note or bill of 
exchange is for the traveller or the merchant. As 
innumerable pence, a multitude of shillings, not a 
few pounds are gathered up and represented by one 
of these, so have we in some single word the quin- 
tessence and final result of an infinite number of an- 
terior mental processes, ascending one above the 
other, until all have been at length summed up for 
us in that single word. This last maybe compared 
to nothing so fitly as to some mighty river, which 
does not bring its flood of waters to the sea, till 
many rills have been swallowed up in brooks, and 
brooks in streams, and streams in tributary rivers, 
each of these affluents having lost its separate name 
and existence in that which at last represents and 
contains them all. 
Science is an immense gainer by words which 


thus say singly, what whole sentences might with 
difficulty have succeeded in saying. Thus ' isother- 
mal ' is quite a modern invention ; but how much is 
summed up by the word ; what a long story is saved, 
as often as we speak of ' isothermal ' lines. Physi- 
ologists have given the name of ' atavism ' to the 
emerging again of a face in a family after its disap- 
pearance during two or three generations. What 
would have else needed a sentence is here accom- 
plished by a word. Lord Bacon somewhere describes 
a certain candidate for the Chair of St. Peter as be- 
ing ' papable.' There met, that is, in him all the 
conditions, and they were many, which would ad- 
mit the choice of the Conclave falling upon him. 
When Bacon wrote, one to be ' papable ' must have 
been born in lawful wedlock ; must have no chil- 
dren nor grandchildren living ; must not have a kins- 
man already in the Conclave ; must be already a 
Cardinal ; all which facts this single word sums up. 
When Aristotle in the opening sentences of his 
Rhetoric, declares that rhetoric and logic are ' an- 
t is trophic/ what a wonderful insight into both, and 
above all into their relations to one another, does 
the word impart to those who have any such spe- 
cial training as enables them to take in all which 
hereby he intends. Or take a word so familiar as 
4 circle/ and imagine how it would fare with us, if, 
as often as in some long and difficult mathematical 
problem we needed to refer to this figure, we were 
obliged to introduce its entire definition, no single 
word representing it ; and not this only, but the 
definition of each term employed in the definition ;— 


how well-nigh impossible it would prove to carry the 
whole process in the mind, or to take oversight of all 
its steps. Imagine a few more words struck out of 
the vocabulary of the mathematician, and if all 
activity and advance in his proper domain was not 
altogether arrested, yet would it be as effectually 
restrained and hampered as commercial intercourse 
would be, if in all its transactions iron or copper were 
the sole medium of exchange. Wherever any 
science is progressve, there will be progress in its 
nomenclature as well. Words will keep pace with 
things, and with more or less felicity resuming in 
themselves the labors of the past, will at once as- 
sist and abridge the labors of the future ; like tools 
which, themselves the result of the finest mechanical 
skill, do at the same time render other and further 
triumphs of art possible, oftentimes such as would 
prove quite unattainable without them.* 

It is not merely the widening of men's intellect- 
ual horizon, which, bringing new thoughts within 
the range of their vision, compels the origination 
of corresponding words ; but as often as regions of 
this outward world hitherto closed are laid open, 
the novel objects of interest which these contain 
will demand to find their names, and not merely to 
be catalogued in the nomenclature of science, but, 
so far as they present themselves to the popular 
eye, will require to be popularly named. When a 
new thing, a plant, or fruit, or animal, or whatever 
else it may be, is imported from some foreign land, 
or so comes within the sphere of knowledge that it 

* See Mill, System of Logic, iv. 6, 3. 


needs to be thus named, there are various ways by 
which this may be done. The first and commonest 
way is to import the name and the thing together, 
incorporating the former, unchanged, or with slight 
modification, into the language. Thus we did with 
the potato, which is only another form of ' batata, 
in which shape the original Indian word appears in 
our earlier voyagers. But this is not the only way 
of naming ; and the example on which I have just 
lighted affords good illustration of various other 
methods which may be adopted. Thus a name 
belonging to something else, which the new object 
nearly resembles, may be transferred to it, and the 
confusion arising from calling different things by 
the same name disregarded. It was thus in German, 
'kartoffer being only a corruption, which found 
place in the last century, of 'tartuffel,' from the 
Italian ' tartuffolo ' (Florio), properly the name of 
the truffle ; but which not the less was transferred 
to the potato, on the ground of the many resem- 
blances between them.* Or again this same trans- 
fer may take place, but with some qualifying or 
distinguishing addition. Thus in Italy also men 
called the potato * tartufo/ but added ' bianco/ the 
white truffle ; a name now giving way to ' patata.' 
Thus was it, too, with the French ; who called it 
apple, but ' apple of the earth '; even as in many 
of the provincial dialects of Germany it bears 
the name of 'erdapfel' or earth-apple to this 
It will sometimes happen that a language, having 

* [See Kluge, Etym. Diet. s. v. Kartoffel.\ 


thus to provide a new name for a new thing, will 
seem for a season not to have made up its mind by 
which of these methods it shall do it. Two names 
will exist side by side, and only after a time will 
one gain the upper hand of the other. Thus when 
the pineapple was introduced into England, it 
brought with it the name of ' ananas/ erroneously 
' anana,' under which last form it is celebrated by 
Thomson in his Seasons.* This name has been 
nearly or quite superseded by 'pineapple,' mani- 
festly suggested by the likeness of the new fruit to 
the cone of the pine. It is not a very happy forma- 
tion ; for it is not likeness, but identity, which 
4 pineapple ' suggests, and it gives some excuse to 
an error, which up to a very late day ran through 
all German-English and French-English diction- 
aries ; I know not whether even now it has disap- 
peared. In all of these * pineapple ' is rendered as 
though it signified not the anana, but this cone of 
the pine ; and not very long ago, the Journal des 
Dibats made some uncomplimentary observations 
on the voracity of the English, who could wind up 
a Lord Mayor's banquet with fir-cones for dessert. 

Sometimes the name adopted will be one drawn 
from an intermediate language, through which we 
first became acquainted with the object requiring 
to be named. ' Alligator ' is an example of this. 
When that ugly crocodile of the New World was 
first seen by the Spanish discoverers, they called 

* [The word ananas is from a native Peruvian name nanas. The 
pineapple was first seen by Europeans in Peru; see the New English 
Dictionary (s. v).J 


it, with a true insight into its species, 'el lagar- 
to, v the lizard, as being the largest of that liz- 
ard species to which it belonged, or sometimes 
* el lagarto de las Indias,' the Indian lizard. In Sir 
Walter Raleigh's Discovery of Guiana the word still 
retains its Spanish form. Sailing up the Orinoco, 
4 we saw in it/ he says, * divers sorts of strange 
fishes of marvellous bigness, but for lagartos it ex- 
ceeded ; for there were thousands of these ugly 
serpents, and the people call it, for the abundance 
of them, the river of lagartos, in their language.' 
We can explain the shape which with us the word 
gradually assumed, by supposing that English sail- 
ors who brought it home, and had continually 
heard, but may have never seen it written, blended 
as in similar instances has often happened, the 
Spanish article ' el ' with the name. In Ben Jon- 
son's ' alligarta,' we note the word in process of 

* * Alcoran ' supplies another example of this carious annexation of the 
article. Examples of a like absorption or incorporation of it are to be 
found in many languages; in our own, when we write «a newt,' and 
not an ewt, or when our fathers wrote ' a nydiot ' (Sir T. More), and 
not an idiot; in the Italian, which has * lonza ' for onza; but they are still 
more numerous in French. Thus ' lierre,' ivy, was written by Ron- 
sard, « rhierre,' which is correct, being the Latin ' hedera.' ' Lingot 9 is 
our * ingot,' but with fusion of the article; in * larigot ' and * loriot ' the 
word and the article have in the same manner grown together. In old 
French it was Tendemain,' or, le jour en demain: ( le lendemain,' as 
now written, is a barbarous excess of expression. 'La Pouille,' a 
name given to the southern extremity of Italy, and in which we recog- 
nize 'Apulia/ is another variety of error, but moving in the same 
sphere (Genin, Ricriations Philologiques, vol. i. pp. 102-105); of the 
same variety is ' La Natolie,' which was written L* Anatolie ' once. An 
Irish scholar has observed that in modern Irish ' an ' (= * the ') is 


Less honorable causes than some which I have 
mentioned, give birth to new words ; which will 
sometimes reflect back a very fearful light on the 
moral condition of that epoch in which first they 
saw the light. Of the Roman emperor, Tiberius, 
one of those ' inventors of evil things/ of whom St. 
Paul speaks (Rom. i. 30), Tacitus informs us that 
under his hateful dominion words, unknown before, 
emerged in the Latin tongue, for the setting out of 
wickednesses, happily also previously unknown, 
which he had invented. It was the same frightful 
time which gave birth to 'delator,' alike to the 
thing and to the word. 

The atrocious attempt of Lewis XIV. to convert 
the Protestants in his dominions to the Roman 
Catholic faith by quartering dragoons upon them 
with license to misuse to the uttermost those who 
refused to conform, this ' booted mission ' (mission 
bottle), as it was facetiously called at the time, 
has bequeathed 'dragonnade' to the French lan- 
guage. ' Refugee ' had at the same time its rise, 
and owed it to the same event. They were called 
' r£fugi£s ' or ' refugees ' who took refuge in some 
land less inhospitable than their own, so as to es- 
cape the tender mercies of these missionaries. 
' Con vertisseur* belongs to the same period. The 
spiritual factor was so named who undertook to 

frequently thus absorbed in the names of places, as in ' Nenagh,' <Naul '; 
while sometimes an error exactly the reverse of this is committed, and a 
letter supposed to be the article, but in fact a part of the word, drop- 
ped: thus ( Oughaval, v instead of 'Noughhaval* or New Habitation* 
[See Joyce, Irish Local Names .\ 


convert the Protestants on a large scale, re- 
ceiving so much a head for the converts whom he 

Our present use of 4 rou6* throws light on an- 
other curious and shameful page of French history. 
The * rou£/ by which word now is meant a man of 
profligate character and conduct, is properly and 
primarily one broken on the wheel. Its pres- 
ent and secondary meaning it derived from that 
Duke of Orleans who was Regent of France after 
the death of Lewis XIV. It was his miserable am- 
bition to gather round him companions worse, if 
possible, and wickeder than himself. These, as the 
Duke of St. Simon assures us, he was wont to call 
his * rou6s ' ; every one of them abundantly deserv- 
ing to be broken on the wheel, — which was the 
punishment then reserved in France for the worst 
malefactors.* When we have learned the pedigree 
of the word, the man and the age rise up before us, 
glorying in their shame, and not caring to pay to 
virtue even that hypocritical homage which vice 
finds it sometimes convenient to render. 

The great French Revolution made, as might be 
expected, characteristic contributions to the French 
language. It gives us some insight into its ugliest 
side to know that, among other words, it produced 
the following: ' guillotine/ ' incivisme/ * lanterner,' 
4 noyade,' ' sansculotte,' ' terrorisme.' Still later the 
French conquests in North Africa, and the pitiless 

* The « roues ' themselves declared that the word expressed rather 
their readiness to give any proof of their affection, even to their tang 
broken upon the wheel, to their protector and friend* 


severities with which every attempt at resistance on 
the part of the free tribes of the interior was put 
down and punished, have left their mark on it as 
well ; ' razzia,' which is properly an Arabic word, 
having been added to it, to express the swift and 
sudden sweeping away of a tribe, with its herds, its 
crops, and all that belongs to it. The Communist 
insurrection of 1871 bequeathed one contribution 
almost as hideous as itself, namely * petroleuse/ to 
the language. It is quite recently that we have 
made any acquaintance with ' recidivist ' — one, that 
is, who falls back once more on criminal courses. 

But it would ill become us to look only abroad 
for examples in this kind, when perhaps an equal 
abundance might be found much nearer home. 
Words of our own keep record of passages in our 
history in which we have little reason to glory. Thus 
* mob ' and * sham ' had their birth in that most dis- 
graceful period of English history, the interval be- 
tween the Restoration and the Revolution. 4 1 may 
note/ says one writing towards the end of the reign 
of Charles II., * that the rabble first changed their 
title, and were called " the mob " in the assemblies 
of this [The Green Ribbon] Club. It was their 
beast of burden, and called first " mobile vulgus, " 
but fell naturally into the contraction of one sylla- 
ble, and ever since is become proper English.'* 

* North, jExamen, p. 574; for the origin of ♦sham* see p. 231. 
Compare Swift in The Tatler, No. ccxxx. * I have done the utmost,' 
he there says, ' for some years past to stop the progress of "mob " and 
"banter"; but have been plainly borne down by numbers, and 
betrayed by those who promised to assist me.' 


At a much later date a writer in The Spectator 
speaks of ' mob ' as still only struggling into exist- 
ence. ' I dare not answer/ he says, ' that mob, rap, 
pos, incog., and the like, will not in time be looked 
at as part of our tongue. ' In regard of ' mob/ the 
mobile multitude, swayed hither and thither by each 
gust of passion or caprice, this, which The Specta- 
tor hardly expected, while he confessed it possible, 
has actually come to pass. ' It is one of the many 
words formerly slang, which are now used by our 
best writers, and received, like pardoned outlaws, 
into the body of respectable citizens/ Again, 
though the murdering of poor helpless lodgers, 
afterwards to sell their bodies for dissection, can 
only be regarded as the monstrous wickedness of 
one or two, yet the verb ' to burke/ drawn from the 
name of a wretch who long pursued this hideous 
traffic, will be evidence in all after times, unless in- 
deed its origin should be forgotten, to how strange 
a crime this age of ours could give birth. Nor less 
must it be acknowledged that ' to ratten ' is no pleas- 
ant acquisition which the language within the last 
few years has made ; and as little 4 to boycott/ 
which is of still later birth.* 

We must not count as new words properly so 
called, although they may delay us for a minute, 
those comic words, most often comic combinations 
formed at will,wherein, as plays and displays of power, 
writers ancient and modern have delighted. These 
for the most part are meant to do service for the 

* [This word has found its way into most European languages, see 
the New English Dictionary (s. v.)] 


moment, and, this done, to pass into oblivion ; the 
inventors of them themselves having no intention 
of fastening them permanently on the language. 
Thus Aristophanes coined peMovixidco, to loiter 
like Nicias, with allusion to the delays by whose aid 
this prudent commander sought to put off the dis- 
astrous Sicilian expedition, with other words not a 
few, familiar to every scholar. The humor will 
sometimes consist in their enormous length,* some- 
times in their mingled observance and transgression 
of the laws of the language, as in the davaooraroi, 
in the avror ottos of the Greek comic poet, the ' pa- 
truissimus ' and * oculissimus/ comic superlatives of 
patruus and oculus, * occisissimus ' of occisus ; * dom- 
inissimus ' of dominus; ' asinissimo ' (Italian) of asino; 
or in superlative piled on superlative, as in the 
4 minimissimus ' and * pessimissimus ' of Seneca, 
the 'ottimissimo 'of the modern Italian ; so too 
in the 'dosones,' 'dabones/ which in Greek and 
in medieval Latin were names given to those who 
were ever promising, ever saying 'I will give/ 
but never crowning promise with performance. 
Plautus, with his exuberant wit, and exulting in his 
mastery of the Latin language, is rich in these, 
' fustitudinus,' ' ferricrepinus ' and the like ; will put 
together four or five lines consisting wholly of comic 
combinations thrown off for the occasion.t Of the 
same character is Chaucer's 'octogamy/ or eighth 

* As in the dutptTtroXejion^dfjdidrparoi of Eupolis; the tinsp- 
/iayopaio\exiQo\ax<xvoit<2XiS of Aristophanes, There are others 
a good deal longer than these. 

f Persa, iv. 6, 20-23, 


carriage ; Butler's ' cynarctomachy/ or battle of a 
dog and bear ; Southey's ' matriarch/ for by this 
name he calls the wife of the Patriarch Job ; but 
Southey's fun in this line of things is commonly poor 
enough ; his want of finer scholarship making itself 
felt here. What humor for example can any one 
find in * philofelist ' or lover of cats ? Fuller, when 
he used 'to avunculize,' meaning to tread in the 
footsteps of one's uncle, scarcely proposed it as a 
lasting addition to the language ; as little did Pope 
intend more than a very brief existence for ' vat- 
icide,' or Cowper for ' extraforaneous,' or Carlylefor 
' gigmanity,' for ' tolpatchery/ or the like. 

Such are some of the sources of increase in the 
wealth of a language ; some of the quarters from 
which its vocabulary is augmented. There have 
been, from time to time, those who have so little 
understood what a language is, and what are the 
laws which it obeys, that they have sought by ar- 
bitrary decrees of their own to arrest its growth, 
have pronounced that it has reached the limits of 
its growth, and must not henceforward presume to 
develop itself further. Even Bentley with all his vig- 
orous insight into things is here at fault. ' It were 
no difficult contrivance/ he says, ' if the public had 
any regard to it, to make the English tongue im- 
mutable, unless hereafter some foreign nation 
shall invade and overrun us/* But a language 
has a life, as truly as a man, or as a tree. As a 
man, it must grow to its full stature ; unless indeed 
its life is prematurely abridged by violence from 

* Works, vol. ii. p. 13. 


without ; even as it is also submitted to his condi- 
tions of decay. As a forest tree, it will defy any 
feeble bands which should attempt to control its 
expansion, so long as the principle of growth is 
in it; as a tree too it will continually, while it 
casts off some leaves, be putting forth others. 
And thus all such attempts to arrest have utter- 
ly failed, even when made under conditions the 
most favorable for success. The French Academy, 
numbering all or nearly all the most distinguished 
writers of France, once sought to exercise such a 
domination over their own language, and might 
have hoped to succeed, if success had been possible 
for any. But the language heeded their decrees as 
little as the advancing tide heeded those of Canute. 
Could they hope to keep out of men's speech, or 
even out of their books, however they excluded 
from their own Dictionary, such words as * blague/ 
• blaguer,' 4 blagueur,' because, being born of the peo- 
ple, they had the people's mark upon them ? After 
fruitless resistance for a time, they have in cases in- 
numerable been compelled to give way — though in 
favor of the words just cited they have not yielded yet 
— and in each successive edition of their Dictionary 
have thrown open its doors to words which had 
established themselves in the language, and would 
hold their ground there, altogether indifferent 
whether they received the Academy's seal of al- 
lowance or not.* 

* Nisard (Curiositis de P £tym. Fratif. p. 195) has an article on 
these words, where with the epigrammatic neatness which distinguishes 
French prose, he says, Je regrette que l'Academie repousse de son 


Littr£, the French scholar who singled-handed 
has given to the world a far better Dictionary than 
that on which the Academy had bestowed the col- 
lective labor of more than two hundred years, shows 
a much juster estimate of the actual facts of lan- 
guage. If ever there was a word born in the streets, 
and bearing about it tokens of the place of its birth, 
it is ' gamin ' ; moreover it cannot be traced farther 
back than the year 1835 ; when first it appeared in 
a book, though it may have lived some while before 
on the lips of the people. All this did not hinder 
his finding room for it in the pages of his Dictionary. 
He did the same for ' flaneur ' and for ' rococo/ and 
for many more, bearing similar marks of a popular 
origin.* And with good right ; for though fashions 
may descend from the upper classes to the lower, 
words, such I mean as constitute real additions to 
the wealth of a language, ascend from the lower to 
the higher ; and of these not a few, let fastidious 
scholars oppose or ignore them for a while as they 
may, will assert a place for themselves therein, 
from which they will not be driven by the protests 
of all the scholars and all the academicians in the 

Dictionnaire les mots blague, blagueur, laissant grander a sa porte ces 
fils eflrontes du peuple, qui finiront par Tenfoncer. On this futility of 
straggling against popular usage in language Montaigne has said, * They 
that will fight custom with grammar are fools '; and, we may add, nut 
less fools, as engaged in as hopeless a conflict, they that will fight it 
with dictionary. 

* A work by Darmesteter, De la Criation actuelle de Mots nouveaux 
dans la Langue Frattfaise, Paris, 1877, is well worth consulting 



take two 


, does it 

is intro- 

hly first 

as,' too, 

nly just 

to have 

ms to us 

"s 'solil- 


.nd and 

rn with 

' before 

, as he 

11 meet 
has thus 
or from 
is meet 
; is the 
*:e world 
: fail to 
the first 
; for we 

:,/. viii. 3. 


world. The world is ever moving, and language 
has no choice but to move with it.* 

Those who make attempts to close the door against 
all new comers are strangely forgetful of the steps 
whereby that vocabulary of the language, with which 
they are so entirely satisfied that they resent every 
endeavor to enlarge it, had itself been gotten to- 
gether — namely by that very process which they are 
now seeking by an arbitrary decree to arrest. We 
so take for granted that words with which we have 
been always familiar, whose right to a place in the 
language no one dreams now of challenging or dis- 
puting, have always formed part of it, that it is of- 
tentimes a surprise to discover of how very late in- 
troduction many of these actually are ; what an 

* One has well said, * The subject of language, the instrument, but 
also the restraint, of thought, is endless. The history of language, the 
mouth speaking from the fulness of the heart, is the history of human 
action, faith, art, policy, government, virtue and crime. When society 
progresses, the language of the people necessarily runs even with the 
line of society. You cannot unite past and present, still less can you 
bring back the past; moreover, the law of progress is the law of 
storms, it is impossible to inscribe an immutable statute of language on 
the periphery of a vortex, whirling as it advances. Every political 
development induces a concurrent alteration or expansion in conversa- 
tion and composition. New principles are generated, new authorities 
introduced; new terms for the purpose of explaining or concealing the 
conduct of public men must be created ; new responsibilities arise. The 
evolution of new ideas renders the change as easy as it is irresistible, 
being a natural change indeed, like our own voice under varying emo- 
tions or in different periods of life: the boy cannot speak like the baby, 
nor the man like the boy, the wooer speaks otherwise than the husband, 
and every alteration in circumstances, fortune or misfortune, health or 
sickness, prosperity or adversity, produces some corresponding change 
of speech or inflection of tone.' 


amount, it may be, of remonstrance and resistance 
some of them encounter at the first. To take two 
or three Latin examples : Cicero in employing 
1 favor,' a word soon after used by everybody, does it 
with an apology, evidently feels that he is intro- 
ducing a questionable novelty, being probably first 
applied to applause in the theatre ; ' urbanus,' too, 
in our sense of urbane, had in his time only just 
come up ; ' obsequium ' he believes Terence to have 
been the first to employ.* *Soliloquium ' seems to us 
so natural, indeed so necessary, a word, this ' solil- 
oquy/ or talking of a man with himself alone, 
something which would so inevitably demand and 
obtain its adequate expression, that we learn with 
surprise that no one spoke of a ' soliloquy ' before 
Augustine ; the word having been coined, as he 
distinctly informs us, by himself.t 

Where a word has proved an unquestionable 
gain, it is interesting to watch it as it first emerges, 
timid, and doubtful of the reception it will meet 
.with; and the interest is much enhanced if it has thus 
come forth on some memorable occasion, or from 
some memorable man. Both these interests meet 
in the word 'essay.' Were we asked what is the 
most remarkable volume of essays which the world 
has seen, few, capable of replying, would fail to 
answer, Lord Bacon's. But they were also the first 
collection of these, which bore that name ; for we 
gather from the following passage in the (intended) 

* On the new words in classical Latin, see Quintilian, Inst. viii. 3. 

f SoRl. 2. 7. 


dedication of the volume to Prince Henry, that 
' essay ' was itself a recent word in the language, 
and, in the use to which he put it, perfectly novel : 
he says — 'To write just treatises requireth leisure in 
the writer, and leisure in the reader; . . . which is the 
cause which hath made me choose to write certain 
brief notes set down rather significantly than (furi- 
ously, which I have called Essays. The word is 
late, but the thing is ancient/ From this dedi- 
cation we gather that, little as ' essays ' now can be 
considered a word of modesty, deprecating too large 
expectations on the part of the reader, it had, as 
' sketches ' perhaps would have now, as ' commen- 
tary* had in the Latin, that intention in its earliest 
use. In this deprecation of higher pretensions it 
resembled the ' philosopher ' of Pythagoras. Others 
had styled themselves, or had been willing to be 
styled i wise men.' ' Lover of wisdom,' a name at 
once so modest and so beautiful, was of his devising.* 
But while thus some words surprise us that they 
are so new, others surprise us that they are so old. 
Few, I should imagine, are aware that 4 rationalist,' 
and this in a theological, and not merely a philo- 
sophical sense, is of such early date as it is; or that 
we have not imported quite in these later times both 
the name and the thing from Germany. Yet this 
is very far from the case. There were ' ration- 
alists ' in the time of the Commonwealth ; and these 
challenging the name exactly on the same grounds 
as those who in later times have claimed it for their 
own. Thus, the author of a newsletter from Lon- 

* Diogenes Lafrtius, Proctm, § 12. 


don, of date October 14, 1646, among other things 
mentions: 4 There is a new sect sprung up among 
them [the Presbyterians and Independents], and 
these are the Rationalists, and what their reason 
dictates them in Church or State stands for good 
until they be convinced with better ; ' * with more 
to the same effect. 4 Christology ' has been lately 
characterized as a monstrous importation from 
Germany. I am quite of the remonstrant's mind 
that English theology does not need, and can do 
excellently well without it ; yet this novelty it is 
not ; for in the Preface to the works of that illus- 
trious Arminian divine of the seventeenth century, 
Thomas Jackson, written by Benjamin Oley, his 
friend and pupil, the following passage occurs: ' The 
reader will find in this author an eminent excel- 
lence in that part of divinity which I make bold to 
call Christology, in displaying the great mystery 
of godliness, God the Son manifested in human 
flesh.' t 

In their power of taking up foreign words into 
healthy circulation and making them truly their 
own, languages differ much from one another, and 
the same language from itself at different periods 
of its life. There are languages of which the appe- 
tite and digestive power, the assimilative energy, is 
at some periods almost unlimited. Nothing is too 
hard for them ; everything turns to good with them ; 
they will shape and mould to their own uses and 

* Clarendon State Papers^ vol. ii. p. 40 of the Appendix. 
f Preface to Dr. Jackson's Works, vol. i. p. xxvii. A work of 
Fleming's, published in 1700, bears the title Christology. 


habits almost any material offered to them. This, 
however, is in their youth ; as age advances, the 
assimilative energy diminishes. Words are still 
adopted ; for this process of adoption can never 
wholly cease ; but a chemical amalgamation of the 
new with the old does not any longer find place : 
or only in some instances, and very partially even 
in them. The new comers lie upon the surface of 
the language ; their sharp corners are not worn or 
rounded off; they remain foreign still in their 
aspect and outline, and, having missed their oppor- 
tunity of becoming otherwise, will remain so to the 
end. Those who adopt, as with an inward misgiv- 
ing about their own gift and power of stamping 
them afresh, make a conscience of keeping them in 
exactly the same form in which they have received 
them ; instead of conforming them to the laws of 
that new community into which they are now 
received. Nothing will illustrate this so well as a 
comparison of different words of the same family, 
which have at different periods been introduced 
into our language. We shall find that those of an 
earlier introduction have become English through 
and through, while the later introduced, belonging 
to the same group, have been very far from under- 
going the same transforming process. Thus ' bishop ' 
[A.S. biscof\ y a word as old as the introduction of 
Christianity into England, though derived from 
' episcopus/ is thoroughly English ; while * episco- 
pal/ which has supplanted 'bishoply,' is only a 
Latin word in an English dress. * Alms,' too, is 
thoroughly English, and English which. has de- 


scended to us from far ; the very shape in which we 
have the word, one syllable for ' eleemosyna ' of six, 
sufficiently testifying this ; ' letters/ as Home 
Tooke observes, ' like soldiers, being apt to desert 
and drop off in a long march/ The seven-syllabled 
and awkward 'eleemosynary* is of far more recent 
date. Or sometimes this comparison is still more 
striking, when it is not merely words of the same 
family, but the very same word which has been 
twice adopted, at an earlier period and a later — the 
earlier form will be thoroughly English, as ' palsy ' ; 
the later will be only a Greek or Latin word spelt 
with English letters, as 'paralysis.' 'Dropsy,' 
'quinsy/ 'megrim/ 'squirrel/ 'rickets/ 'surgeon/ 
' tansy/ ' dittany/ ' daffodil/ and many more words 
that one might name, have nothing of strangers or 
foreigners about them, have made themselves quite 
at home in English. So entirely is their physiog- 
nomy native, that it would be difficult even to 
suspect them to be of Greek descent, as they all 
are. Nor has 'kickshaws' anything about it now 
which would compel us at once to recognize in it 
the French ' quelques choses ' * — ' French kickshose* 
as with allusion to the quarter from which it came, 
and while the memory of that was yet fresh in 
men's minds, it was often called by our early 

A very notable fact about new words, and a 

* ' These cooks have persuaded us their coarse fare is the best, and 
all other but what they dress to be mere quelqves choses, made dishes 
of no nourishing ' (Whitlock, Zootomia % p. 147). 


very signal testimony of their popular origin, of 
their birth from the bosom of the people, is the dif- 
ficulty so often found in tracing their pedigree. 
When the causa vocum are sought, as they very 
fitly are, and but of much better than mere curi- 
osity, for the causa rerurn are very often wrapt up in 
them, those continually elude our research. Nor 
does it fare thus merely with words to which atten- 
tion was called, and interest about their etymology 
awakened, only after they had been long in popular 
use — for that such should often give scope to idle 
guesses, should altogether refuse to give up their 
secret, is nothing strange — but words will not seldom 
perplex and baffle the inquirer even where an in- 
vestigation of their origin has been undertaken al- 
most as soon as they have come into existence. 
Their rise is mysterious; like almost all acts of becom- 
ing, it veils itself in deepest obscurity. They emerge, 
they are in everybody's mouth ; but when it is in- 
quired from whence they are, nobody can tell. 
They are but of yesterday, and yet with inexplica- 
ble rapidity they have already lost all traces of the 
precise circumstances under which they were born. 
The rapidity with which this comes to pass is 
nowhere more striking than in the names of politi- 
cal or religious parties, and above all in names of 
slight or of contempt. Thus Baxter tells us that 
when he wrote there already existed two explana- 
tions of ' Roundhead/ * a word not nearly so old as 

* Narrative of my Life and Times, p. 34: « The original of which 
name is not certainly known. Some say it was because the Puritans 
then commonly wore short hair, and the King's party long hair; some 


himself. How much has been written about the 
origin of the German 'ketzer' (=our ' heretic '), 
though there can scarcely be a doubt that the 
Cathari make their presence felt in this word.* 
Hardly less has been disputed about the French 
4 cagot.' t Is ' Lollard/ or ' Loller ' as we read it in 
Chaucer, from * lollen/ to chaunt ? that is, does it 
mean the chaunting or canting people ? or had the 
Lollards their title from a principal person among 
them of this name, who suffered at the stake ? — to 
say nothing of * lolium,' found by some in the name, 
these men being as tares among the wholesome 
wheat.* The origin of * Huguenot/ as applied to 
the French Protestants, was already a matter of 
doubt and discussion in the lifetime of those who 
first bore it. A distinguished German scholar has 
lately enumerated fifteen explanations which have 
been offered of the word.§ [How did the lay sis- 
ters in the Low Countries, the * Beguines/ get their 
name ? Many derivations have been suggested, 
but the most probable account is that given in Du- 
cange, that the appellative was derived from *le 

say it was because the Queen at Strafford's trial asked who that round- 
headed man was, meaning Mr. Pym, because he spake so strongly. ' 

* [See on this word Kluge's Etym. Dict.\ 

f The word meant in old times 'a leper '; see Cotgrave's Dictionary t 
also Athenaunt, No. 2726.] 

X Hahn, Ketzer in Mittelalter^ vol. ii. p. 534. 

§ Mahn, EtymoL Untersuch. p. 92. Uttr6, who has found the 
word in use as a Christian name two centuries before the Reformation, 
has no doubt that here is the explanation of it At any rate there is here 
what explodes a large number of the proposed explanations, as for in- 
stance that Huguenot is another and popular shape of ' Eidgenossen.' 


B£gut, w the Stammerer, the nickname of Lambert, 
a priest of Ltege in the twelfth century, the founder 
of the order. (See the document quoted in Du- 
cange, and the ' New English Dictionary ' (s. v.).] 
Were the ' Waldenses ' so called from one Waldus, 
to whom these ' Poor Men of Lyons/ as they were 
at first called, owed their origin ? * As ^little can 
any one tell us with any certainty why the l Pauli- 
cians ' and the ' Paterines ' were severally named as 
they are ; or, to go much further back, why the 
' Essenes ' were so called.t From whence had 
Johannes Scotus, who anticipated so much of the 
profoundest thinking of later times, his title of 

* Erigena,' and did that title mean Irish-born, or 
what ? X ' Prester John * was a name given in the 
Middle Ages to a priest-king, real or imaginary, of 
wide dominion in Central Asia. But whether there 
was ever actually such a person, and what was in- 
tended by his name, is all involved in the deep- 
est obscurity. How perplexing are many of the 
Church's most familiar terms, and terms the often- 
est in the mouth of her children; thus her 'Em- 
ber* days; her ' Collects ';§ her 'Breviary'; her 

* [It is not doubted now that the Waldenses got their name from Peter 
Waldez or Valdo, a native of Lyons in the twelfth century. Waldez 
was a rich merchant who sold his goods and devoted his wealth to 
furthering translations of the Bible, and to the support of a set of 
poor preachers. For an interesting account of the Waldenses see in 
the Guardian, Aug. 18, 1886, a learned review by W. A. B. C, of 
Histoire Litterarie des Vaudois, par E. Montet.] 

t Lightfoot, On the Colossians, p. 1 14 sqq. 

t [There is no doubt whatever that Erigena in this case means 

* Irish-born. , ] 

§ Freeman, Principles of Divine Service, vol, i. p. 145. 


4 Whitsunday '; * the derivation of ' Mass ' itself not 
being lifted above all question.t As little can any 
one inform us why the Roman military standard on 
which Constantine inscribed the symbols of the 
Christian faith should have been called * Labarum.' 
And yet the inquiry began early. A father of the 
Greek Church, almost a contemporary of Constan- 
tine, can do no better than suggest that ' labarum ' 
is equivalent to * laborum,' and that it was so called 
because in that victorious standard was the end of 
labor and toil (finis laborum) ! % The ' ciborium ' 
of the early Church is an equal perplexity; § and 
* chapel ' (capella) not less. All later investigations 
have failed effectually to dissipate the mystery of 
the ' Sangraal.' So too, after all that has been writ- 
ten upon it, the true etymology of 4 mosaic ' remains 
a question still. 

And not in Church matters only, but everywhere, 
we meet with the same oblivion resting on the ori- 
gin of words. The Romans, one might beforehand 
have assumed, must have known very well why 

• See Skeat, s. v. 

f [Two at least of the ecclesiastical terms above mentioned are no 
longer perplexing, and are quite lifted above dispute: ember in ' Ember 
Days ' represents Anglo-Saxon ymb-ryne, literally ' a running round, 
circuit, revolution, anniversary'; see Skeat (s. v.); and Whitsunday 
means simply ' White Sunday,' Anglo-Saxon hwita Sunnan-dag.] 

J Mahn, Etym. Untersuch. p. 65; cf. Kurtz, Ktrchengeschichte % 3rd 
edit. p. 115. 

§ [The word is first met in Chrysostom, who calls the silver models 
of the temple at Ephesus (Acts xix. 24) nixpd xifioopia. [A 
primary meaning of the Greek Hifioopiov was the cup-like seed-vessel 
of the Egyptian water-lily, see Diet, of Christian Antiquities % p. 65.] 


they called themselves ' Quirites,' but it is manifest 
that this knowledge was not theirs. Why they were 
addressed as Patres Conscripti is a matter unset* 
tied still. They could have given, one would think, 
an explanation of their naming an outlying con- 
quered region a 'province.' Unfortunately they 
offer half a dozen explanations, among which we 
may make our choice. 'German* and 'Germany* 
were names comparatively recent when Tacitus 
wrote ; but he owns that he has nothing trustwor- 
thy to say of their history ; * later inquirers have 
not mended the matter.t 

The derivation of words which are the very key 
to the understanding of the Middle Ages, is often 
itself wrapt in obscurity. On 'fief and 'feudal* 
how much has been disputed.^ ' Morganatic ' mar- 
riages are recognized by the public law of Germany, 
but why called l morganatic* is unsettled still. § 
Gypsies in German are ' zigeuner ' ; but when this is 
resolved into ' ziehgauner/ or roaming thieves, the 
explanation has about as much scientific value as 
the not less ingenious explanation of ' Saturnus ' as 
satur annis,|| of ' severitas ' as saeva Veritas (Augus- 
tine) ; of 'cadaver ' as composed of the first sylla- 
bles of caro data, vermibus.t Littr£ has evidently 
little confidence in the explanation commonly of- 

* Germania, 2. 

t Pott, Etymol, Forsch. vol. ii. pt. 2, pp. 860-872. 
% Stubbs, Constitutional History of England 'vol. i. p. 251. 
§ [There is no mystery about this word; see a good account of the 
term in Skeat's Diet. (s. v).] 
|| Cicero, Nat, Deor. ii. 25. 
11 Dwight, Modern Philology % 1st series, p. 288. 


fered of the ' Salic ' law, namely, that it was the law 
which prevailed on the banks of the Saal.* 

And the modern world has unsolved riddles in- 
numerable of like kind. Why was l Canada ' so 
named ? And whence is ' Yankee/ a title little 
more than a century old ? having made its first ap- 
pearance in a book printed at Boston, U. S., 1765. 
Is i Hottentot ' an African word, or, more probably, 
a Dutch or Low Frisian; and which, if any, of the 
current explanations of it should be accepted ? t 
Shall we allow Humboldt's derivation of ' cannibal,' 
and find ' Carib ' in it ? X Whence did the ' Chou- 
ans/ the insurgent royalists of Brittany, obtain their 
title? When did California obtain its name, and 
why ? Questions such as these, to which we can 
give no answer or a very doubtful one, might be 
multiplied without end. Littr6 somewhere in his 
great Dictionary expresses the misgiving with which 
what he calls ' anecdotal etymology ' fills him ; 
while yet it is to this that we are continually tempted 
here to have recourse. 

But consider now one or two words which have 
not lost the secret of their origin, and note how eas- 
ily they might have done this, and having once lost, 
how unlikely it is that any searching would have re- 
covered it. The traveller Burton tells us that the 

* For a full and learned treatment of the various derivations of 
' Mephistopheles ' which have been proposed, and for the first appear- 
ance of the name in books, see Ward's Marlowe's Doctor Faustus, p. 

t See Transactions of the Philological Society, 1866, pp. 6-25, 

X See Skeat, s. v. 


coarse cloth which is the medium of exchange, in 
fact the money of eastern Africa, is called ' mer- 
kani/ The word is a native corruption of ' Amer- 
ican/ the cloth being manufactured in America and 
sold under this name. But suppose a change should 
take place in the country from which this cloth was 
brought, men little by little forgetting that it ever 
had been imported from America, who then would 
divine the secret of the word ? So too, if the tra- 
dition of the derivation of * paraffin ' were once let 
go and lost, it would, I imagine, scarcely be recov- 
ered. Mere ingenuity would scarcely divine the fact 
that a certain oil was so named because 'parum 
affinis/ having little affinity which chemistry could 
detect, with any other substance. So, too, it is not 
very probable that the derivation of ' licorice/ once 
lost, would again be recovered. It would exist, at 
the best, but as one guess among many. There can 
be no difficulty about it when we find it spelt, as we 
do in Fuller, 4 glycyrize or liquoris.' 

Those which I cite are but a handful of examples 
of the way in which words forget, or under predis- 
posing conditions might forget, the circumstances 
of their birth. Now if we could believe in any merely 
arbitrary words, standing in connection with noth- 
ing but the mere lawless caprice of some inventor, 
the impossibility of tracing their derivation would 
be nothing strange. Indeed it would be lost labor 
to seek for the parentage of all words, when many 
probably had none. But there is no such thing ; 
there is no word which is not, as the Spanish gen- 
tleman loves to call himself, an * hidalgo/ or son of 


something.* All are embodiments, more or less 
successful, of a sensation, a thought, or a fact ; or if 
of more fortuitous birth, still they attach them- 
selves somewhere to the already subsisting world of 
words and things,t and have their point of contact 
with it and departure from it, not always discover- 
able, as we see, but yet always existing.^ And thus, 
when a word entirely refuses to tell us anything 
about itself, it must be regarded as a riddle which 
no one has succeeded in solving, a lock of which no 
man has found the key — but still a riddle which has 
a solution, a lock for which there is a key, though 
now, it may be, irrecoverably lost. And this diffi- 

* [The Spanish hi jo da/go, a gentleman, means a son of wealth or an 
estate; see Steven's Z>w/. (s. v.)] 

t J. Grimm, in an interesting review of a little volume dealing with 
what the Spaniards call 'Germania' with no reference to Germany, 
the French ' argot,' and we ' Thieves' Language,' finds in this lan- 
guage the most decisive evidence of this fact (Kleine Schrift, vol. iv. p. 
165): Der nothwendige Zusammenhang aller Sprache mit Ueber- 
lieferung zeigt sich auch hier; kaum ein Wort dieser Gaunermundart 
scheint leer erfunden, und Menschen eines Gelichters, das sich sonst kein 
Gewissen aus Lugen macht, beschfimen manchen Sprachphilosophen, 
der von Erdichtung einer allgemeinen Sprache getrflumt hat. Van 
Helmont indeed, a sort of modern Paracelsus, is said to have invented the 
word * gas '; but it is difficult to think that there was not a feeling here 
after * geest ' or « geist,' whether he was conscious of this or not. 

J Some will remember here the old dispute— Greek, I was tempted 
to call it, but in one shape or another it emerges everywhere — whether 
words were imposed on things BSdet or <pvtiet, by arbitrary arrange- 
ment or by nature. We may boldly say with Bacon, Vestigia certe 
rationis verba sunt, and decide in favor of nature. If only they knew 
their own history, they could always explain, and in most cases justify, 
their existence. See some excellent remarks on this subject by Renan, 
De r Origin* du Langage, pp. 146-149; and an admirable article on 
'Slang' in the Times, Oct. 18, 1864. 


culty — it is oftentimes an impossibility — of tracing 
the genealogy even of words of .a very recent for- 
mation, is, as I observed, a strong argument for the 
birth of the most notable of these out of the heart 
and from the lips of the people. Had they first ap- 
peared in books, something in the context would 
most probably explain them. Had they issued from 
the schools of the learned, these would not have 
failed to leave a recognizable stamp and mark upon 

There is, indeed, another way in which obscurity 
may rest on a new word, or a word employed in a 
new sense. It may tell the story of its birth, of the 
word or words which compose it, may so bear 
these on its front, that there can be no question here, 
while yet its purpose and intention may be hope- 
lessly hidden from our eyes. The secret once lost, 
is not again to be recovered. Thus no one has 
called, or could call, in question the derivation of 
' apocryphal/ that it means ' hidden away.' When, 
however, we begin to inquire why certain books 
which the Church either set below the canonical 
Scriptures, or rejected altogether, were called 
4 apocryphal/ then a long and doubtful discussion 
commences. Was it because their origin was hidden 
to the early Fathers of the Church, and thus rea- 
sonable suspicions of their authenticity entertain- 
ed ? * Or was it because they were mysteriously 
kept out of sight and hidden by the heretical sects 
which boasted themselves in their exclusive pos- 

• Augustine {De Civ. Dei y xv. 23): Apocrypha nuncupantur eo 
quod eorum occulta origo non claruit Patribus. Cf. Con. Faust, xi. 2. 


session ? Or was it that they were books not laid 
up in the Church chest, but hidden away in obscure 
corners ? Or were they books worthier to be hidden 
than to be brought forward and read to the faith- 
ful ? * — for all these explanations have been offered, 
and none with such superiority of proof on its side 
as to have deprived others of all right to be heard. 
In the same way there is no question that ' trage- 
dy ' is the song of the goat ; but why this, whether 
because a goat was the prize for the best perform- 
ers of that song in which the germs of Greek 
tragedy lay, or because the first actors were dressed 
like satyrs in goatskins, is a question which will 
now remain unsettled to the end.t You know 
what i leonine ' verses are ; or, if you do not, it is 
very easy to explain. They are Latin hexameters 
into which an internal rhyme has forced its way. 
The following, for example, are all ' leonine ' : 

Qui pingit Jforem non pingit floris odor em: 

Si quis det mam$os t ne quaere in dentibus atmos. 

Una avis in dextrd melior quam quattaor extra. 

The word has plainly to do with ' leo ' in some 
shape or other ; but are these verses leonine from 
one Leo or Leolinus, who first composed them ? 
or because, as the lion is king of beasts, so 
this, in monkish estimation, was the king of 
metres ? or from some other cause which none have 
so much as guessed at ? % It is a mystery which 

* [For still another reason for the epithet ' apocryphal ' see Skeat's 
Etym. Diet.] 
t See Bentley, Works, vol. i. p. 337. 
I See my Sacred Latin Pbetry, 3rd edit. p. 32. 


none have solved. That frightful system of fagging 
which made in the seventeenth century the German 
Universities a sort of hell upon earth, and which 
was known by the name of 4 pennalism,' we can 
scarcely disconnect from • penna ' ; while yet this 
does not help us to any effectual scattering of the 
mystery which rests upon the term * The con- 
nection of 'dictator* with 'dicere,' 'dictare,' is 
obvious ; not so the reason why the ' dictator ' ob- 
tained his name. ' Sycophant ' and ' superstition ' 
are words, one Greek and one Latin, of the same 
character. No one doubts of what elements they 
are composed ; and yet their secret has been so 
lost, that, except as a more or less plausible guess, 
it can never now be recovered.t 

But I must conclude. I may seem in this pres- 
ent lecture a little to have outrun your needs, and 
to have sometimes moved in a sphere too remote from 
that in which your future work will lie. And yet 
it is in truth very difficult to affirm of any words, 
that they do not touch us, do not in some way bear 
upon our studies, on what we shall hereafter have 
to teach, or shall desire to learn; that there are 
any conquests which language makes that concern 
only a select few, and may be regarded indifferent- 
ly by all others. For it is here as with many in- 

* See my Gustavus Adolphus in Germany, p. 131. [Pennal meant 
' a freshman,' a term given by the elder students in mockery, because 
the student in his first year was generally more industrious, and might 
be often seen with his pennal or pen-case about him.] 

f For a good recapitulation of what best has been written on 
' superstitio/ see Pott, Etym. Forsckungen, vol. ii. p. 921. 


ventions in the arts and luxuries of life ; which, be- 
ing at the first the exclusive privilege and posses- 
sion of the wealthy and refined, gradually descend 
into lower strata of society, until at length what 
were once the elegancies and luxuries of a few, 
have become the decencies, well-nigh the necessities, 
of all. Not otherwise there are words, once only 
on the lips of philosophers or theologians, of the 
deeper thinkers of their time, or of those directly 
interested in their speculations, which step by step 
have come down, not debasing themselves in this 
act of becoming popular, but training and elevating 
an ever-increasing number of persons to enter into 
their meaning, till at length they have become 
truly a part of the nation's common stock, ' house- 
hold words/ used easily and intelligently by nearly 

I cannot better conclude this lecture than by 
quoting a passage, one among many, which ex- 
presses with a rare eloquence all I have been la- 
boring to utter ; for this truth, which many have 
noticed, hardly any has set forth with the same ful- 
ness of illustration, or the same sense of its im- 
portance, as the author of The Philosophy of the 
Inductive Sciences. * Language,' he observes, ' is 
often called an instrument of thought, but it is also 
the nutriment of thought ; or rather, it is the at- 
mosphere in which thought lives ; a medium essen- 
tial to the activity of our speculative powers, al- 
though invisible and imperceptible in its operation ; 
and an element modifying, by its qualities and 
changes, the growth and complexion of the faculties 


which it feeds. In this way the influence of preceding 
discoveries upon subsequent ones, of the past upon the 
present, is most penetrating and universal, although 
most subtle and difficult to trace. The most familiar 
words and phrases are connected by imperceptible 
ties with the reasonings and discoveries of former men 
and distant times. Their knowledge is an inseparable 
part of ours : the present generation inherits and 
uses the scientific wealth of all the past. And this 
is the fortune, not only of the great and rich in the 
intellectual world, of those who have the key to 
the ancient storehouses, and who have accumulated 
treasures of their own, but the humblest inquirer, 
while he puts his reasonings into words, benefits 
by the labors of the greatest. When he counts his 
little wealth, he finds he has in his hands coins 
which bear the image and superscription of ancient 
and modern intellectual dynasties, and that in vir- 
tue of this possession acquisitions are in his power, 
solid knowledge within his reach, which none 
could ever have attained to, if it were not that the 
gold of truth once dug out of the mine circulates 
more and more widely among mankind/ 





I. Interesting and instructive. 

II. Necessary caution. 

i. Identity of first rise and first appearance* 

2. Approximate time of appearance. 

3. Local habitation. 

III. Religious and ecclesiastical words. 

1. "Christian." 

2. " Trinity." 

3. "Catholic." 

4. " Canonical." 

5. " New Testament." 

6. " Gospels." 

7. "Monk" and "Nun." 

8. " Transubstantiation." 

9. " Limbo." 

IV. Historical and geographical names. 

1. "Asia." 

2. " India." 

3. "Europe." 


4. " Macedonia. 19 

5. " Greeks." 

6. "Germans." 

7. " Franks." 

8. " Normans." 

9. "Italy," etc. 

V. Political and scientific. 

1. "Tyrant." 

2. " Cosmos." 

VI. Rise of " christian." 

1. Main facts. 

2. Subordinate facts. 

3. Lessons. 



I. Cause: New moral and spiritual forces. 

1. There are cardinal epochs in history. 

2. They demand new words. 
%. They expand old words. 

II. Typical period: The christian era. 

1. Its great novel truths required new forms. 

2. IX affected first the Latin and Greek. 

III. Typical regions of society : Greece and rome. 

A. Greece. 

1. " Idolatry " and " Idolater." 

2. " Theocracy." 

3. Word for " Saviour." 

B. Rome. 

1. Classical Latin had no word for " Saviour." 

2. " Servator " insufficient. 

3. " Sospitator" and " Salutificator " employed. 

4. " Salvator " employed by St. Augustine. 

5. " Infanticidium." 

IV. Each new reception of the word of life is 




I. New thoughts demand new words. 

1. Advance of moral philosophy in Greece. 

2. Rise of the " scholastic " theology. 

3. Rise of the " mystic " theology. 

4. Discoveries of modern science. 

II. Great movements bring new words. 

1. Popular. 

2. Theological. 

3. Scientific. 

III. Individuals coin new words. 

1. " Cosmopolite " coined by Diogenes. 

2. Words coined by poets. 

IV. New necessities create new words. 

1. Discovery of gold. 

2. Diplomacy. 

3. Contact with the East 

4. Assimilation in language. 

5. Change of functions : 

(a.) " Singer" and " poet" 
(b.) " Physician." 


I. Wants detected by comparison. 

II. Wants supplied from other tongue* 

1. "Apathy." 

2. " Indolentia." 

III. Cicero as a mint-master. 

1. " Invidentia." 

IV. Unsuccessful coinages. 

1. " Vitiositas." 

2. " Indigentia." 

3. " Mulierositas." 


4. " Beatitas." 

5. " Esemplastic." 

6. Taylor's, Browne's, and More's words. 



I. Facilitate mental processes. 

1. By saving words. 

2. By making thought practicable. 

II. Serve as bills of exchange. 

1. Analogy between coins and words. 

2. Words like bills — much in little. 

(a.) " Isothermal." 
(b.) "Atavism." 
(it.) " Papable." 
(d.) " Antistrophic." 
(e.) " Circle." 

III. Abridge labor. 

IV. Make further triumphs possible. 



I. Novel objects demand new names. 

1. Imported names : " Potato" and " batata.* 

2. Transferred names. 

\a.) " Kartoffel " and " tarttlffel." 
(b.) " Tartufo " and " bianco." 
(c.) " Apple of the earth." 
(d.) "Erdappel." 

3. Superseded names: " Anana " and " pineapple." 

4. Names made from foreign phrases : 

(*.) "Alligator." 
{p.) "Alcoran." 


(c.) " Lierre." 
(d.) " Lingot" 
(<?.) "Apulia." 
(/.) " Nenagh." 
ig.) " Oughaval." 
II. Dishonorable causes give birth to words. 

1. Words reveal the morals of an epoch. 

2. Testimony of Tacitus. 


I. Lewis XIV. 

1. " Dragonnade." 

2. " Refugee." 

3. " Convertisseur." 

II. Duke of Orleans' " rou£." 

1. Primary meaning : broken on the W&eL 

2. One of profligate character. 

III. French revolution. 

1. " Sans-culotte." 

2. " Incivisme." 

3. " Terrorisme." 

4. "Noyade." 

5. " Guillotine." 

IV. French conquest in north africa : " Razzia." 
V. Commune of 1871 : " Pe*troleuse." 

VI. English history. 

1. " Mob." 

2. " Sham." 

3. Origin of the verb " to burke.* 

4. Origin of the verb " to rattea* 
VII. Comic contributors. 

1. Aristophanes. 

2. Greek comic poet. 


3. Greek and medieval Latin. 

4. Plautus, Chaucer, Butler, Fuller, Cowper, Pop* 

and Carlyle. 


I. The growth of words. 

1. Language has life. 

2. Its growth cannot be checked. 

3. Attempts of the French Academy : 

" Blague," " blagueur," and " blaguer." 

II. Street words. 

1. "Gamin." 

2. "Flaneur." 

3. "Rococo." 

III. The novelty of words. 

1. "Favor." 

2. " Urbane." 
r "Soliloquy.*' 

IV. The birth of words. 

1. "Essay." 

2. "Philosopher." 
V. Old words. 

1. "Rationalist." 

2. " Christology." 


I. The adoption of words. 

1. Assimilative energy of language, 

(a.) Strong in its youth. 
(b.) Decreases with age. 

2. Method of assimilation. 

(a.) Early words amalgamated. 
{p.) Later words lie on the surface. 


3. Comparisons. 

(a.) " Bishop" and "episcopal." 
(&.) " Alms " and " eleemosynary.* 
(c.) " Palsy " and " paralysis." 

4. Naturalized words. 

(a.) " Dropsy." 
(b.) " Quinsy." 
(c.) "Megrim." 
\d.) "Surgeon." 
(e.) "Tansy." 
if.) "Dittany." 
(g.) "Daffodil." 
(h.) " Kickshaws." 
(*.) "Squirrel." 
(/.) " Rickets." 
II. Popular origin of words. 

1. Birth mysterious. 

2. Origin soon obscured. 

(a.) " Roundhead." 
(b.) " Ketzer." 
(c.) "Cagot." 
(d.) " Lollard." 
(e.) " Huguenot." 
if.) "Beguines." 
(g.) "Waldenses." 
ih.) " Paulicians," etc. 



I. Scholastic: "Erigena." 
II. In church matters. 

1. "< Ember' days." 

2. " Collects." 

3. " Breviary." 

4. " Whitsunday." 


5. " Mass." 

6. " Labarum. w 

7. "Ciborium." 

8. "ChapeL" 

9. "SangraaL" 
10. "Mosaic." 

III. In national matters. 

1. " Quirites." 

2. " Province." 

3. " Germans." 

4. " Fief" and " feudal* 

5. " Morganatic" ^ 

6. "Zigeuner." 

7. "Salic." 

IV. Modern riddles. 

1. "Canada." 

2. "Yankee." 

3. "Hottentot." 

4. "Cannibal." 

5. "Chouans." 


I. Words which might easily lose the secret of 
their origin. 

1. "Merkani." 

2. " Paraffin." 

3. " Licorice." 


1. Not arbitrary signs. 

2. Embodiments of 

(a.) Sensation. 
(d.) Thought. 
(c.) Fact 

3. Attached to the already subsisting world. 

4. Difficult genealogy proof of popular origin. 

5. Their purpose and intention may be lost. 


(a.) " Apocryphal" 

(b.) "Tragedy." 

(c.) " Leonine." 

(d.) " Pennalism." 

(e.) "Dictator." 

{/.) " Sycophant" 

(g-) " Superstition." 
III. Conclusion of the lecture. 
i. " Household words." 
2. Language the nutriment of thought 



On the Rise of New Words. 

How is the rise of words made interesting and instructive ? 

What might be written on this subject ? 

With what is the appearance of a new word compared ? 

What caution is necessary ? 

What is said of the identity of the first rise of a word and its 
appearance to us ? 

What can be said of other words ? 

What is true of modern words ? 

Give examples of the rise of religious and ecclesiastical 
words. Of words belonging to the monastic system. Also of 
words witnessing the consolidation of errors in the Church. 
Tell when each appeared. 

Mention some historical and geographical terms. When did 
they first appear ? 

What is said of " tyrant " and " tyranny " ? " Cosmos " ? 

Where was the name " Christian " given ? By whom was it 
imposed ? 

What is in agreement with this view ? 

How do we know that the Jews did not give the name ? 

What was Antioch ? 

What had the faithful been called hitherto ? 

What was evident from the name " Christians " ? 


With what is the rise of the name connected ? 

What did the rise of the name mark ? 

What was the reputation of the Antiochenes in reference to 
nicknames ? 

What is the principal cause of the birth of words ? 

What is the result of such epochs ? 

How is language compared to a river ? 

What did spiritual truths demand of heathen tongues ? 

What was the result ? 

Illustrate with the word " idolatry." 

When did the word appear ? 

What is said of the heathen deities ? 

What is said of the word " theocracy " ? 

Where did these difficulties reappear ? 

Give an example of the difficulty and how it was overcome. 

What was the nature of the Greek word for " saviour " ? 
With what compared ? 

What would have been the natural word in Latin ? 

What was the signification of "servator"? Why insuffi- 
cient ? 

What two other words were defective ? 

Who disposed of the difficulty ? By what argument ? 

What other words do we owe to the Christian Latin ? Give 
their meaning and derivation. 

What is said of infanticidium ? 

What does the unfolding of seminal truths require ? 

What movements are mentioned as demanding extensions 
of language ? 

What is true of some of the words to which these gave birth ? 
What of others? 

What is the character of words born of a popular movement ? 
What where it is theological, scientific, or philosophical? 
What exceptions to this rule ? The nature of the exceptions ? 

What would we naturally infer in reference to " cosmopo- 
lite " ? Who coined it ? Under what circumstances ? What 
does the word suggest ? 

Who is a word maker by right of his name ? Why does he 


coin words ? In what mood ? How does he deal with old 
words ? With new ? 

What is the effect of new necessities on language ? 

What is said of the discovery of gold ? Illustrate. 

What is said of diplomacy ? Give examples. 

How has contact with the East affected language ? 

What is said of " assimilation" and " dissimilation" ? 

Give examples of assimilation by change of letters ? 

What is the opposite process ? Mention some examples of 
the exchange of letters. 

Mention some Italian and German preferences. 

Define dissimilation. 

What is said of the words " singer " and " poet " ? " Phy- 
sician " ? 

How are wants detected in language ? 

How are they supplied ? 

What is the advantage of acquaintance with other languages ? 

What was found necessary in transplanting the Greek phi- 
losophy in Italy ? 

Give examples. 

What is said of the detection of the omission of words by in- 
dividuals ? 

Give an account of " invidentia." 

Why did Cicero coin it ? 

Who invented " vocalitas " ? 

What is true of the acceptance of words ? 

Mention some of Cicero's unsuccessful words. What is the 
history of " beatitude " ? " esemplastic " ? 

What other word coiners are mentioned ? What does Ben 
Jonson say about neologists ? 

Why are comprehensive words valuable ? How compared 
with money ? How likened to a river ? How is science bene- 
fited ? Illustrate by " isothermal" ; " papable " ; " antistro- 
phic": "circle." 

What is true of the progress of nomenclature ? Words, how 
like tools ? 

What is said of novel objects of interest ? 


Illustrate with " potato." How was it named in German? 
In Italy ? France ? 

What is said of two names existing side by side ? 

Illustrate with " pineapple" and "anana." 

Give the history of "alligator"; "alcoran"; "lierre"; 
" lingot " ; " lendemain " ; " La Pouille " ; "La Natolie," etc. 

What other causes produce words * 

What does Tacitus tell us ? 

What gave birth to " delator " ? 

What words were bequeathed by the " booted mission " ? 

Give the history of " refugee " ; also, " convertisseur." 

Give an account of " rou&" 

What words were contributed by the French Revolution ? 
By the French conquests in North Africa ? By the Commu- 
nist insurrection of 187 1 ? 

When did " mob " have its birth ? Where first used ? What 
was foretold in the Spectator ? 

To what do we owe u to burke " and " to ratten " ? 

What is said of comic words and combinations ? 

For what are they invented ? What is their destiny ? 

What word was coined by Aristophanes ? 

In what does the humor of comic words sometimes consist ? 
Give examples. 

What is said of Plautus ? Chaucer ? Butler ? Fuller ? Cow- 
per ? Pope ? Carlyle ? 

What has been tried by those who do not understand language? 

How is Bentley at fault ? 

What is the true character of language ? 

What did the French Academy attempt to do ? With what 
result ? 

What is said of " gamin " ? " FUtneur " ? " Rococo w ? 

What is the law of language ? 

Give the substance of the note on this topic ? 

What is forgotten by those who resist new words? 

What do we take for granted, and why ? 

How did Cicero employ " favor " ? " Urbanus n } 

Who first used " obsequium " ? 


What is said of " soiiloquium " ? 

What is interesting in the reception of words? Illustrate 
with the word " essay." How did it resemble " philosopher " ? 

How do words surprise us ? Illustrate with " rationalist " ; 
" Christology." 

What is said of the assimilation of words ? 

When are most words adopted ? 

What is true of later adoptions ? 

What of the form of adoption ? How is this illustrated by 
*' bishop n ? " Alms " ? In words having two forms ? Of what 
descent are they ? 

Give the derivation of " kickshaws." 

What is true of the pedigree of words ? 

When is this true ? What is said of the rapid loss of the 
origin of words ? How illustrated by " Roundhead " ? " Ket- 
cer " ? " Cagot '• ? " Lollard " ? " Huguenot " ? " Beguines " ? 
" Waldenses " ? By Church words ? By " labarum " ? " Ci- 
borium M ? " Chapel " ? " Sangraal " ? " Mosaic " ? 

What is true of the Roman words " Quirites" and " pro- 
vince " ? Of " Germans " and " Germany " ? 

What examples are furnished by the middle ages ? By the 
modern world ? 

Give examples of words which might easily lose their origin. 

Under what circumstances would difficulty of tracing deriva- 
tions not be strange ? 

How are words like the Spanish gentleman ? 

Of what are they the embodiment ? 

How must we regard unsolved word- problems ? 

What is difficult genealogy an evidence of ? Why ? 

What is said of hidden purpose and intention in words ? 

Illustrate with " apocryphal." 

What four different views are held concerning this word ? 

What is true of " tragedy " ? " Leonine " ? " Pennalism " ? 
" Dictator" ? " Sycophant " ? " Superstition " ? 

What is affirmed of words and our relations to them ? What 
of popular household words ? 

Give the substance of the quotation from WheweU. 



On the Rise of New Words. 

i. Anecdote. 

2. Baccalaureate. 

3. Calumet 

4. Czar. 

5. Carnival. 

6. Caucus. 

7. Cockney. 

8. Coincidence. 

9. Coroner. 

10. Farce. 

11. Hammock. 

12. Health. 

13. Hegira. 

14. Hocus-pocus. 

15. Humbug. 

16. Inaugurate. 

17. Inculcate. 

18. Infidel. 

19. Insolence. 

20. Namby-pamby. 

21. News. 

22. Nickname. 

23. Nuisance. 

24. Organum. 
35. Oscillation. 

26. Paraphernalia. 

27. Plagiarism. 

28. Platonic. 

29. Polka. 

30. Proxy. 

31. Querulous. 

32. Quiz. 

33. Ravenous. 

34. Reliable. 

35. Rostrum. 

36. Rust 

37. School. 

38. Schooner. 

39. Scrutiny. 

40. Shammy. 

41. Sharper. 

42. Speculation. 

43. Smock. 

44. Squaw. 

45. Starvation. 

46. Taboo. 

47. Treacle. 

48. Utopia. 

49. Wiseacre. 

50. Zounds. 



SYNONYMS, and the study of synonyms, with 
the advantages to be derived from a careful 
noting of the distinction between them, constitute 
the subject with which in my present Lecture 
I shall deal. But what, you may ask, is meant 
when, comparing certain words with one another, 
we affirm of them that they are synonyms ? We 
imply that, with great and essential resemblances 
of meaning, they have at the same time small sub- 
ordinate, and partial differences — these differences 
being such as either originally, and on the strength 
of their etymology, were born with them ; or dif- 
ferences which they have by usage acquired ; or 
such as, though nearly or altogether latent now, 
they are capable of receiving at the hands of wise 
and discreet masters of language. Synonyms are 
thus words of like significance in the main ; with a 
large extent of ground which they occupy in com- 
mon, but also with something of their own, private 
and peculiar, which they do not share with one an- 

* The word « synonym ' only found its way into the English lan- 
guage about the middle of the seventeenth century. Its recent incom- 
ing is marked by the Greek or Latin termination which for awhile it 
bore; Jeremy Taylor writing <synonymon,' Hacket 'synonymum,' and 


So soon as the term ' synonym ' is defined thus, it 
will be at once perceived by any acquainted with 
its etymology, that, strictly speaking, it is a mis- 
nomer, and is given, with a certain inaccuracy and 
impropriety, to words which stand in such relations 
as I have just traced to one another ; since in 
strictness of speech the terms, 'synonyms' and 
4 synonymous/ applied to words, affirm of them that 
they cover not merely almost, but altogether, the 
same extent of meaning, that they are in their 
signification perfectly identical and coincident ; 
circles, so to speak, with the same centre and the 
same circumference. The term, however, is not 
ordinarily so used ; it evidently is not so by such as 
undertake to trace out the distinction between 
synonyms ; for, without venturing to deny that 
there may be such perfect synonyms, words, that 
is, with this absolute coincidence of the one with 
the other, yet these could not be the objects of any 
such discrimination ; since, where no real difference 
exists, it would be lost labor and the exercise of a 
perverse ingenuity to attempt to draw one out. 

There are, indeed, those who assert that words in 
one language are never exactly synonymous, or in 
all respects commensurate, with words in another ; 
that, when they are compared with one another, 
there is always something more, or something less, 
or something different, in one as compared with the 
other, which hinders this complete equivalence. 

Milton (in the plural) « synonyma.' Butler has 'synonymas.* On the 
subject of this chapter see Marsh, Lectures on the English Language, 
New York, i860, p. 571, sqq* 


And, those words being excepted which designate 
objects in their nature absolutely incapable of a 
more or less and of every qualitative difference, I 
should be disposed to consider other exceptions to 
this assertion exceedingly rare. * In all languages 
whatever/ to quote Bentley's words, ' a word of a 
moral or of a political significance, containing 
several complex ideas arbitrarily joined together, 
has seldom any correspondent word in any other 
language which extends to all these ideas.' Nor 
is it hard to trace reasons sufficient why this 
should be so. For what, after all, is a word, but 
the enclosure for human use of a certain district, 
larger or smaller, from the vast outfield of thought 
or feeling or fact, and in this way a bringing of it 
under human cultivation, a rescuing of it for human 
uses ? But how extremely unlikely it is that na- 
tions, drawing quite independently of one another 
these lines of enclosure, should draw them in all or 
most cases exactly in the same direction, neither 
narrower nor wider ; how almost inevitable, on the 
contrary, that very often the lines should not 
coincide — and this, even supposing no moral forces 
at work to disturb the falling of the lines. 

How immense and instructive a field of compari- 
son between languages does this fact lay open to 
us ; while it is sufficient to drive a translator with 
a high ideal of the task which he has undertaken 
well-nigh to despair. For indeed in the transferring 
of any matter of high worth from one language to 
another there are losses involved, which no labor, 
no skill, no genius, no mastery of one language or 


of both can prevent. The translator may have 
worthily done his part, may have ' turned ' and not 
4 overturned ' his original (St. Jerome complains 
that in his time many versiones deserved to be call- 
ed eversiones rather) ; he may have given the lie to 
the Italian proverb/ i Traduttori Traditori/or 4 Trans- 
lators Traitors/ men, that is, who do not ' render ' 
but ' surrender ' their author's meaning, and yet for 
all this the losses of which I speak will not have 
been avoided. Translations, let them have been 
carried through with what skill they may, are, as 
one has said, belles infideles at the best. 

How often in the translation of Holy Scripture 
from the language wherein it was first delivered in- 
to some other which offers more words than one 
whereby some all-important word in the original 
record may be rendered, the perplexity has been 
great which of these should be preferred. Not, in- 
deed, that there was here an embarrassment of 
riches, but rather an embarrassment of poverty. 
Each, it may be, has advantages of its own, but 
each also its own drawbacks and shortcomings. 
There is nothing but a choice of difficulties any- 
how, and whichever is selected, it will be found 
that the treasure of God's thought has been com- 
mitted to an earthen vessel, and one whose earthi- 
ness will not fail at this point or at that to appear ; 
while yet, with all this, of what far-reaching im- 
portance it is that the best, that is, the least inade- 
quate, word should be chosen. Thus the mission- 
ary translator, if he be at all aware of the awful 
implement which he is wielding, of the tremendous 


crisis in a people's spiritual life which has arrived,, 
when their language is first made the vehicle of the 
truths of Revelation, will often tremble at the 
work he has in hand; he will tremble lest he should 
permanently lower or confuse the whole spiritual 
life of a people, by choosing a meaner and letting 
go a nobler word for the setting forth of some lead- 
ing truth of redemption ; and yet the choice how 
difficult, the nobler itself falling how infinitely below 
his desires, and below the truth of which he would 
make it the bearer. 

Even those who are wholly ignorant of Chinese 
can yet perceive how vast the spiritual interests 
which are at stake in China, how much will be 
won or how much lost for the whole spiritual 
life of its people, it may be for ages to come, 
according as the right or the wrong word is se- 
lected by our missionaries there for designating 
the true and the living God. As many of us in- 
deed as are ignorant of the language can be no 
judges in the controversy which on this matter 
is, or was lately, carried on ; but we can all feel 
how vital the question, how enormous the inter- 
ests at stake ; while, not less, having heard the 
allegations on the one side and on the other, we 
must own that there is only an alternative of 
difficulties here. Nearer home there have been dif- 
ficulties of the same kind. At the Reformation, for 
example, when Latin was still more or less the lan- 
guage of theology, how earnest a controversy raged 
round the word in the Greek Testament which 
we have rendered * repentance ' ; whether * poeni- 


tentia' should be allowed to stand, hallowed by 
long usage as it was, or ' resipiscentia,' as many 
of the Reformers preferred, should be substituted 
in its room ; and how much on either side could 
be urged. Not otherwise, at an earlier date, 
' Sermo ' and ' Verbum ' contended for the honor 
of rendering the * Logos ' of St. John ; though 
here there can be no serious doubt on which side 
the advantage lay, and that in 'Verbum' the 
right word was chosen. 

But this of the relation of words in one lan- 
guage to words in another, and of all the ques- 
tions which may thus be raised, is a sea too large 
for me to launch upon now ; and with thus much 
said to invite you to have open eyes and ears for 
such questions, seeing that they are often full of 
teaching,* I must leave this subject, and limit 
myself in this Lecture to a comparison between 
words, not in different languages, but in the same. 

Synonyms then, as the term is generally un- 
derstood, and as I shall use it, are words in the 
same language with slight differences either al- 
ready established between them, or potentially 
subsisting in them. They are not on the one 
side words absolutely identical, for such, as has 
been said already, afford no room for discrimina- 
tion ; but neither on the other side are they words 

* Pott in his EtymoL Forschungen> vol. v. p. hrix, and elsewhere, has 
much interesting instruction on the subject. There were four attempts 
to render eipooveia, itself, it is true, a very subtle word. They are 
these: * dissimulatio' (Cicero); ' illusio ' (Qnintilian); * simulatio ' and 


only remotely similar to one another ; for the 
differences between these last will be self-evident, 
will so lie on the surface and proclaim themselves 
to all, that it would be as superfluous an office 
as holding a candle to the sun to attempt to 
make this clearer than it already is. It may be 
desirable to trace and fix the difference between 
scarlet and crimson, for these might easily be con- 
founded ; but who would think of so doing between 
scarlet and green? or between covetousness and 
avarice ; while it would be idle and superfluous 
to do the same for covetousness and pride. They 
must be words more or lesi liable to confusion, 
but which yet ought not to be confounded, as 
one has said; in which there originally inhered 
a difference, or between which, though once abso- 
lutely identical, such has gradually grown up, 
and so established itself in the use of the best 
writers, and in the instinct of the best speakers of 
the tongue, that it claims to be openly recognized 
by all. 

But here an interesting question presents itself to 
us : How do languages come to possess synonyms 
of this latter class, which are differenced not by 
etymology, nor by any other deep-lying cause, but 
only by usage ? Now if languages had been made 
by agreement, of course no such synonyms as these 
could exist ; for when once a word had been found 
which was the adequate representative of a thought, 
feeling, or fact, no second one would have been 
sought. But languages are the result of processes 
very different from this, and far less formal and 


regular. Various tribes, each with its own dialect, 
kindred indeed, but in many respects distinct, 
coalesce into one people, and cast their contribu- 
tions of language into a common stock. Thus the 
French possess many synonyms from the langue 
dOc and langue ifOtl, each having contributed its 
word for one and the same thing ; thus ' atre ' and 
4 foyer/ both for hearth. Sometimes different tribes 
of the same people have the same word, yet in 
forms sufficiently different to cause that both remain, 
but as words distinct from one another ; thus in 
Latin * serpo ' and * repo ' are dialectic variations of 
the same word ; just as in German, ' odem ' and 
' athem ' were no more than dialectic differences at 
the first. Or again, a conquering people have fixed 
themselves in the midst of a conquered ; they 
impose their dominion, but do not succeed in 
imposing their language ; nay, being few in number, 
they find themselves at last compelled to adopt the 
language of the conquered ; yet not so but that a 
certain compromise between the two languages 
finds place. One carries the day, but on the 
condition that it shall admit as naturalized denizens 
a number of the words of the other ; which in some 
instances expel, but in many others subsist as 
synonyms side by side with, the native words. 

These are causes of the existence of synonyms 
which reach far back into the history of a nation 
and a language ; but other causes at a later period 
are also at work. When a written literature springs 
up, authors familiar with various foreign tongues 
import from one and another words which are not 


absolutely required, which are oftentimes, rather 
luxuries than necessities. Sometimes, having a 
very sufficient word of their own, they must needs 
go and look for a finer one, as they esteem it, from 
abroad ; as, for instance, the Latin having its own 
expressive ' succinum ' (from ' succus '), for amber, 
some must import from the Greek the ambiguous 
4 electrum.' Of these thus proposed as candidates 
for admission, some fail to obtain the rights of 
citizenship, and after longer or shorter probation 
are rejected ; it may be, never advance beyond their 
first proposer. Enough, however, receive the stamp 
of popular allowance to create embarrassment for a 
while ; until, that is, their relations with the already 
existing words are adjusted. As a single illustra- 
tion of the various quarters from which the English 
has thus been augmented and enriched, I would 
instance the words ' wile/ 4 trick, ' device,' * finesse,* 
4 artifice/ and * stratagem/ and remind you of the 
various sources from which we have drawn them. 
Here 'wile/ is Old-English, 'trick* is Dutch, 
* devise ' is Old-French, * finesse * is French, * ar- 
tificium ' is Latin, and * arparrfyrfiia y Greek. 

By and by, however, as a language becomes itself 
an object of closer attention, at the same time that 
society, advancing from a simpler to a more com- 
plex condition, has more things to designate, more 
thoughts to utter, and more distinctions to draw, it 
is felt as a waste of resources to employ two or 
more words for the designating of one and the same 
thing. Men feel, and rightly, that with a boundless 
world lying around them and demanding to be cat- 


alogued and named, and which they only make 
truly their own in the measure and to the extent 
that they do name it, with infinite shades and 
varieties of thought and feeling subsisting in their 
own minds, and claiming to find utterance in words, 
it is a wanton extravagance to expend two or more 
signs on that which could adequately be set forth 
by one — an extravagance in one part of their ex- 
penditure, which will be almost sure to issue in, 
and to be punished by, a corresponding scantness 
and straitness in another. Some thought or feeling 
or fact will wholly want one adequate sign, be- 
cause another has two * Hereupon that which has 
been well called the process of * desynonymizing ' 
begins — that is, of gradually discriminating in use 
between words which have hitherto been accounted 
perfectly equivalent, and, as such, indifferently em- 
ployed. It is a positive enriching of a language 
when this process is at any point felt to be accom- 
plished ; when two or more words, once promis- 
cuously used, have had each its own peculiar do- 
main assigned to it, which it shall not itself over- 

* We have a memorable example of this in the history of the great 
controversy of the Church with the Arians. In the earlier stages of 
this, the upholders of the orthodox faith used av6ia and ttooo'rao't? 
as identical in force and meaning with one another, Athanasius, in 
as many words, affirming them to be such. As, however, the contro- 
versy went forward, it was perceived that doctrinal results of the highest 
importance might be fixed and secured for the Church through the 
assigning severally to these words distinct modifications of meaning. 
This, accordingly, in the Greek Church, was done; while the Latin, 
desiring to move pari passu, did yet find itself most seriously embar- 
rassed and hindered in so doing by the fact that it had, or assumed that 
it had, but the one word, * substantia, 9 to correspond to the two Greek, 


step, upon which others shall not encroach. This 
may seem at first sight only as a better regulation 
of old territory ; for all practical purposes it is the 
acquisition of new. 

This desynonymizing process is not carried out 
according to any prearranged purpose or plan. 
The working genius of the language accomplishes 
its own objects, causes these synonymous words 
insensibly to fall off from one another, and to ac- 
quire separate and peculiar meanings. The most 
that any single writer can do, save indeed in the 
terminology of science, is to assist an already ex- 
isting inclination, to bring to the clear conscious- 
ness of all that which already has been obscurely 
felt by many, and thus to hasten the process of this 
disengagement, or, as it has been well expressed, 
* to regulate and ordinate the evident nisus and 
tendency of the popular usage into a severe defi- 
nition '; and establish on a firm basis the distinction, 
so that it shall not be lost sight of or brought into 
question again. Thus long before Wordsworth 
wrote, it was obscurely felt by many that in * im- 
agination ' there was more of the earnest, in ' fancy* 
of the play, of the spirit, that the first was a loftier 
faculty and power than the second. The tendency 
of the language was all in this direction. None 
would for some time back have employed ' fancy ' 
as Milton employs it,* ascribing to it operations 
which we have learned to reserve for * imagination ' 
alone, and indeed subordinating ' imaginations ' to 
fancy, as a part of the materials with which it deals 
* Paradise Lost t v. 102-105; so too Longinus, De Subl. 15. 


Yet for all this the words were continually, and 
not without injury, confounded. Wordsworth first 
in the Preface to his Lyrical Ballads ', rendered it 
impossible for any, who had read and mastered 
what he had written on the matter, to remain 
unconscious any longer of the essential difference 
between them.* This is but one example, an il- 

* Thus De Quincey (Letters to a Young Man whose Education has 
been Neglected): ' All languages tend to clear themselves of synonyms, 
as intellectual culture advances; the superfluous words being taken up 
and appropriated by new shades and combinations of thought evolved 
in the progress of society. And long before this appropriation is fixed 
and petrified, as it were, into the acknowledged vocabulary of the lan- 
guage, an insensible ciinamen (to borrow a Lucretian word) prepares 
the way for it. Thus, for instance, before Mr. Wordsworth had un- 
veiled the great philosophic distinction between the powers of fancy 
and imagination, the two words had begun to diverge from each 
other, the first being used to express a faculty somewhat capricious 
and exempted from law, the other to express a faculty more self- 
determined. When, therefore, it was at length perceived that under 
an apparent unity of meaning there lurked a real dualism, and for 
philosophic purposes it was necessary that this distinction should 
have its appropriate expression, this necessity was met halfway by the 
ciinamen which had already affected the popular usage of the words.' 
Compare what Coleridge had before said on the same matter, Biogr. 
Lit. vol. i. p. 90; and what Ruskin, Modern Painters, part 3, § 2, ch. 
3, has said since. It is to Coleridge that we owe the word * to desyno- 
nymize ' (Boigr. Lit. p. 87)— which is certainly preferable to Professor 
Grote's ' despecificate.' Purists indeed will object that it is of hybrid 
formation, the prefix Latin, the body of the word Greek; but for all 
this it may very well stand till a better is offered. Coleridge's own 
contributions, direct and indirect, in this province are perhaps more 
in number and in value than those of any other English writer; thus to 
him we owe the disentanglement of * fanaticism ' and 'enthusiasm ' (Lit. 
Rem. vol. ii. p. 365); of 'keenness' and 'subtlety' (Table Talk, p. 
140); of 'poetry ' and • poesy ' (Lit. Rem. vol. i. p. 219; of ' analogy ' 
and ' metaphor ' (Aids to Reflection, 1825, p. 198); and that on which he 
himself laid so great a stress, of ' reason ' and ' understanding.' 


lustrious one indeed, of what has been going for- 
ward in innumerable pairs of words. Thus in 
Wiclif 's time and long after, there seems to have 
been no difference recognized between a ' famine ' 
and a 'hunger'; they both expressed the out- 
ward fact, of a scarcity of food. It was a genuine 
gain when leaving to ' famine ' this meaning, by 
'hunger' was expressed no longer the outward 
fact, but the inward sense of the fact. Other 
pairs of words between which a distinction is rec- 
ognized now which was not recognized some cen- 
turies ago, are the following : ' to clarify ' and ' to 
glorify'; 'to admire* and 'to wonder'; 'to con- 
vince ' and ' to convict ' ; ' reign ' and ' kingdom ' ; 
4 ghost ' and ' spirit ' ; ' merit ' and ' demerit ' ; 
' mutton ' and ' sheep ' ; ' feminine ' and ' effemi- 
nate ' ; ' mortal ' and ' deadly ' ; ' ingenious ' and ' in- 
genuous'; 'needful' and 'needy'; 'voluntary' 
and 'wilful.'* 

A multitude of words in English are still waiting 
for a similar discrimination. Many in due time will 
obtain it, and the language prove so much the 
richer thereby ; for certainly if Coleridge had right 
when he affirmed that ' every new term expressing 
a fact or a difference not precisely or adequately 
expressed by any other word in the same language, is 
a new organ of thought for the mind that has learned 
it,'t we are justified in regarding these distinctions 
which are still waiting to be made as so much rever- 

* For the exact difference between these and other pairs or larger 
groups of words, see my Select Glossary. 
f Church and State t p. 200, 


sionary wealth in our mother tongue. Thus how 
real an ethical gain would it be, how much clear- 
ness would it bring into men's thoughts and ac- 
tions, if the distinction which exists in Latin be- 
tween * vindicta ' and ' ultio,' that the first is a 
moral act, the just punishment of the sinner by his 
God, of the criminal by the judge, the other an act 
in which the self-gratification of one who counts 
himself injured or offended is sought, could in 
like manner be fully established (vaguely felt it 
already is) between our ' vengeance ' and * re- 
venge ' ; so that * vengeance ' (with the verb * to 
avenge ') should never be ascribed except to God, 
or to men acting as the executors of his righteous 
doom ; while all retaliation to which not zeal for 
his righteousness, but men's own sinful passions 
have given the impulse and the motive, should be 
termed ' revenge.' As it now is, the moral disap- 
probation which cleaves, and cleaves justly, to * re- 
venge,' is oftentimes transferred almost uncon- 
sciously to * vengeance ' ; while yet without ven- 
geance it is impossible to conceive in a world so 
full of evil-doing any effectual assertion of right- 
eousness, any moral government whatever. 

The causes mentioned above, namely that our 
modern English, Teutonic in its main structure, 
yet draws so large a portion of its verbal wealth 
from the Latin, and has further welcomed, and 
found place for, may later accessions, these causes 
have together effected that we possess a great 
many duplicates, not to speak of triplicates, or of 
such a quintuplicate as that which I adduced just 


now, where the Teutonic, French, Italian, Latin, 
and Greek had each yielded us a word. Let me 
mention a few duplicate substantives, Old-English 
and Latin : thus we have 4 shepherd ' and 4 pastor '; 
4 feeling ' and * sentiment ' ; 4 handbook ' and 4 man- 
ual' ; ' ship ' and 4 nave ' ; 4 anger ' and 4 ire ' ; 4 grief* 
and 4 sorrow ' ; 4 kingdom,' 4 reign/ and ' realm ' ; 
4 love ' and 4 charity ' ; 4 feather ' and ' plume ' ; 4 fore- 
runner ' and ' precursor ' ; ' foresight ' and 4 provi- 
dence ' ; 4 freedom ' and ' liberty ' ; * bitterness ' and 
4 acerbity ' ; 4 murder ' and * homicide ' ; 4 moons ' and 
4 lunes.' Sometimes, in theology and science espe- 
cially, we have gone both to the Latin and to the 
Greek, and drawn the same word from them both : 
thus 4 deist ' and * theist ' ; ' numeration ' and 4 arith- 
metic ' ; ' revelation ' and * apocalypse ' ; 4 temporal ' 
and ' chronic ' ; ' compassion ' and * sympathy '; 
4 supposition ' and 4 hypothesis ' ; ' transparent ' and 
4 diaphanous ' ; * digit ' and 4 dactyle.' But to re- 
turn to the Old-English and Latin, the main factors 
of our tongue. Besides duplicate substantives, we 
have duplicate verbs, such as 4 to whiten ' and 4 to 
blanch ' ; 4 to soften ' and 4 to mollify ' ; 4 to unload ' 
and 4 to exonerate ' ; 4 to hide ' and 4 to conceal ' ; 
with many more. Duplicate adjectives also are 
numerous, as 4 shady' and * umbrageous ' ; 4 unread- 
able ' and 4 illegible ' ; 4 unfriendly' and 4 inimical ' ; 
4 almighty ' and 4 omnipotent ' ; 4 wholesome ' and 
4 salubrious ' ; 4 unshunnable ' and * inevitable.' Oc- 
casionally our modern English, not adopting the 
Latin substantive, has admitted duplicate adjec- 
tives ; thus 4 burden ' has not merely 4 burdensome ' 


but also ' onerous/ while yet ' onus ' has found no 
place with us ; ' priest ' has ' priestly ' and ' sacer- 
dotal ' ; * king ' has ' kingly/ ' regal/ which is purely 
Latin, and * royal/ which is Latin distilled through 
the French. ' Bodily ' and ' corporal/ ' boyish ' and 
* puerile/ ' fiery ' and ' igneous/ ' wooden ' and ' lig- 
neous/ ' worldly ' and ' mundane/ ' bloody ' and 
' sanguine/ ' watery ' and ' aqueous/ ' fearful ' and 
' timid/ ' manly* and ' virile/ V womanly 9 and ' fem- 
inine/ ' sunny ' and • solar/ ' starry ' and ' stellar/ 
'yearly* and 'annual/ 'weighty' and 'ponderous/ 
may all be placed in the same list. Nor are these 
more than a handful of words out of the number 
which might be adduced. You would find both 
pleasure and profit in enlarging these lists, and, as 
far as you are able, making them gradually complete. 
If we look closely at words which have succeeded 
in thus maintaining their ground side by side, and 
one no less than the other, we shall note that in 
almost every instance they have little by little as- 
serted for themselves separate spheres of meaning, 
have in usage become more or less distinct. Thus 
we use ' shepherd ' almost always in its primary 
meaning, keeper of sheep ; while 'pastor ' is exclu- 
sively used in the tropical sense, one that feeds the 
flock of God ; at the same time the language 
having only the one adjective, ' pastoral/ that is of 
necessity common to both. ' Love ' and ' charity ' 
are used in our Authorized Version of Scripture 
promiscuously, and out of the sense of their equiva- 
lence are made to represent one and the same Greek 
word ; but in modern use ' charity ' has come pre- 


dominantly to signify one particular manifestation 
of love, the ministry to the bodily needs of others, 
'love' continuing to express the affection of the 
soul. ' Ship/ remains in its literal meaning, while 
* nave* has become a symbolic term used in sacred 
architecture alone. ' Kingdom ' is concrete, as the 
' kingdom of Great Britain, ' reign * is abstract, the 
'reign* of Queen Victoria. An 'auditor* and a 
' hearer ' are now, though they were not once, alto- 
gether different from one another. 'Illegible' is 
applied to the handwriting, ' unreadable ' to the 
subject-matter written ; a man writes an ' illegible ' 
hand ; he has published an ' unreadable ' book. 
' Foresight ' is ascribed to men, but ' providence ' for 
the most part designates, as npovoia also came to 
do, the far-looking wisdom of God, by which He 
governs and graciously cares for his people. It be- 
comes boys to be 'boyish,' but not men to be 
'puerile.' 'To blanch' is to withdraw coloring 
matter : we ' blanch ' almonds or linen ; or the 
cheek by the withdrawing of the blood is ' blanched ' 
with fear ; but we ' whiten ' a wall, not by with- 
drawing some other color, but by the superinducing 
of white ; thus ' whited sepulchres.' When we 
' palliate ' our own or other people's faults, we do 
not seek ' to cloke ' them altogether, but only to 
extenuate the guilt of them in part. 

It might be urged that there was a certain pre- 
paredness in these words to separate off in their 
meaning from one another, inasmuch as they orig- 
inally belonged to different stocks ; and this may 
very well have assisted ; but we find the same pro* 


cess at work where original difference of stock can 
have supplied no such assistance. ' Astronomy ' and 
'astrology ' are both words drawn from the Greek, nor 
is there any reason beforehand why the second 
should not be in as honorable use as the first ; for 
it is the reason, as * astronomy ' the law, of the 
stars.* But seeing there is a true and a false 
science of the stars, both needing words to utter 
them, it has come to pass that in our later use, 
* astrology ' designates always that pretended sci- 
ence of imposture, which affecting to submit the 
moral freedom of men to the influences of the heav- 
enly bodies, prognosticates future events from the 
position of these, as contrasted with * astronomy,' 
that true science which investigates the laws of the 
heavenly bodies in their relations to one another 
and to the planet upon which we dwell. 

As these are both from the Greek, so ' despair ' 
and i diffidence ' are both, though the second more 
directly than the first, from the Latin. At a period 
not very long past the difference between them was 
hardly appreciable ; one was hardly stronger than 
the other. If in one the absence of all hope, in the 

* So entirely was any determining reason wanting, that for some 
while it was a question which word should obtain the honorable employ- 
ment, and it seemed as if « astrology ' and « astrologer * would have done 
so, as this extract from Bishop Hooper makes abundantly plain {Early 
Writings, Parker Society, p. 331): * The astrologer is he that knoweth 
the course and motions of the heavens and teacheth the same; which is 
a virtue if it pass not its bounds, and become of an astrologer an 
astronomer, who taketh upon him to give judgment and censure of these 
motions and courses of the heavens, what they prognosticate and destiny 
unto the creature. 


other that of all faith, was implied. In The Pil- 
grim's Progress, a book with which every English 
schoolmaster should be familiar, ' Mistress Diffidence f 
is ' Giant Despair's ' wife, and not a whit behind 
him in deadly enmity to the pilgrims ; even as 
Jeremy Taylor speaks of the impenitent sinner's 
4 diffidence in the hour of death/ meaning, as the 
context plainly shows, his despair. But to what 
end two words for one and the same thing ? And 
thus •diffidence' did not retain that energy of 
meaning which it had at the first, but little by lit- 
tle assumed a more mitigated sense, (Hobbes 
speaks of ' men's diffidence,' meaning their distrust 
* of one another,') till it has come now to signify a 
becoming distrust of ourselves, a humble estimate 
of our own powers, with only a slight intimation, 
as in the later use of the Latin ' verecundia,' that 
perhaps this distrust is carried too far. 

Again, ' interference ' and * interposition ' are both 
from the Latin ; and here too there is no anterior 
necessity that they should possess those different 
shades of meaning which actually they have ob- 
tained among us ; — the Latin verbs which form 
their latter halves being about as strong one as the 
other.* And yet in our practical use, ' interference ' 
is something offensive ; it is the pushing in of him- 
self between two parties on the part of a third, 
who was not asked, and is not thanked for his 
pains, and who, as the feeling of the word implies, 
had no business there ; while ' interposition ' is em- 

* [The word interference is a derivative from the verb ferire y to 
strike, which is certainly stronger in meaning than ponere, to place.] 


ployed to express the friendly peace-making media- 
tion of one whom the act well became, and who 
even if he was not specially invited thereunto, is 
still thanked for what he has done. How real an 
increase is it in the wealth and efficiency of a lan- 
guage thus to have discriminated such words as 
these ; and to be able to express acts outwardly 
the same by different words, according as we would 
praise or blame the temper and spirit out of which 
they sprung.* 

Take now some words not thus desynonymized 
by usage only, but having a fundamental etymolog- 
ical distinction,— one, however, which it would be 
easy to overlook, and which, so long as we dwell 
on the surface of the word, we shall overlook ; and 
try whether we shall not be gainers by bringing out 
the distinction into clear consciousness. Here are 
1 arrogant/ * presumptuous,' and ' insolent '; we often 
use them promiscuously ; yet let us examine them 
a little more closely, and ask ourselves, as soon as 
we have traced the lines of demarcation between 
them, whether we are not now in possession of 

* If in the course of time distinctions are thus created, and if this is 
the tendency of language, yet they are also sometimes, though far less 
often, obliterated. Thus the fine distinction between ' yea ' and ' yes, 1 
* nay ' and ' no/ once existing in English, has quite disappeared, ' Yea ' 
and * Nay,' in Wiclif s time, and a good deal later, were the answers to 
questions framed in the affirmative. ' Will he come ? ' To this it 
would have been replied ' Yea ' or « Nay,' as the case might be. But 
4 Will he not come ? • — to this the answer would have been, « Yes ' or 
« No.' Sir Thomas More finds fault with Tyndale, that in his transla- 
tion of the Bible he had not observed this distinction, which was evi- 
dently therefore going out even then, that is in the reign of Henry VIII., 
and shortly after it was quite forgotten. 


three distinct thoughts, instead of a single confused 
one. He is * arrogant,' who claims the observance 
and homage of others as his due (adrogo); who 
does not wait for them to offer, but himself de- 
mands all this ; or who, having right to one sort of 
observance, claims another to which he has no 
right. Thus, it was 4 arrogance ' in Nebuchadnezzar, 
when he required that all men should fall down be- 
fore the image which he had reared. He, a man, 
was claiming for man's work the homage which be- 
longed only to God. But one is ' presumptuous ' 
who takes things to himself before he has acquired 
any title to them (prae sumo) ; as the young man 
who already usurps the place of the old, the learner 
who speaks with the authority of the teacher. 
By and by all this may very justly be his, but it is 
' presumption ' to anticipate it now. ' Insolent ' means 
properly no more than unusual ; to act ' insolently ' 
is to act unusually. The offensive meaning which 
' insolent ' has acquired rests upon the sense that 
there is a certain well-understood rule of society, a 
recognized standard of moral and social behavior, 
to which each of its members should conform. 
The ' insolent ' man is one who violates this rule, 
who breaks through this order, acting in an unac- 
customed manner. The same sense of the orderly 
being also the moral, is implied in 'irregular'; a 
man of ' irregular ' is for us a man of immoral life ; 
and yet more strongly in Latin, which has but one 
word (mores) for customs and morals. 

Or consider the following words : ' to hate,' ' to 
loathe,' ' to detest,' ' to abhor.' It would be safe to 


say that our blessed Lord * hated ' to see his 
Father's house profaned, when, the zeal of that 
house consuming Him, He drove forth in anger the 
profaners from it (John ii. 15); He 'loathed' the 
lukewarmness of the Laodiceans, when He threat- 
ened to spue them out of his mouth (Rev. iii. 16) ; 
He ' detested ' the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and 
Scribes, when He affirmed and proclaimed their sin, 
and uttered those eight woes against theip (Matt, 
xxiii.); He ' abhorred ' the evil suggestions of Satan, 
when He bade the Tempter to get behind Him, 
shrinking from him as one would shrink from a 
hissing serpent in his path. 

Sometimes words have no right at all to be con- 
sidered synonyms, and yet are continually used one 
for the other ; having through this constant mis- 
employment more need than synonyms themselves 
to be discriminated. Thus, what confusion is often 
made between 'genuine' and 'authentic,' what 
inaccuracy exists in their employment. And yet 
the distinction is a very plain one. A 'genuine' 
work is one written by the author whose name it 
bears ; an ' authentic ' work is one which relates 
truthfully the matters of which it treats. For 
example, the apocryphal Gospel of St. Thomas is 
neither ' genuine ' nor ' authentic' It is not ' gen- 
uine,' for St. Thomas did not write it ; it is not 
' authentic,' for its contents are mainly fables and 
lies. The History of the Alexandrian War, which 
passes under Caesar's name, is not ' genuine,' for he 
did not write it ; it is ' authentic,' being in the main 
a truthful record of the events which it professes to 


relate. Thiers' History of the French Empire \ on the 
contrary, is ' genuine/ for he is certainly the author, 
but very far indeed from * authentic '; while Thucy- 
dides* History of the Peloponnesian War is both 
1 authentic ' and ' genuine.' * 

You will observe that in most of the words just 
adduced, I have sought to refer their usage to their 
etymologies, to follow the guidance of these, and by 
the same aid to trace the lines of demarcation which 
divide them. For I cannot but think it an omission 
in a very instructive little volume upon synonyms 
edited by the late Archbishop Whately, and a par- 
tial diminution of its usefulness, that in the valu- 
ation of words reference is so seldon made to their 
etymologies, the writer relying almost entirely on 
present usage and the tact and instinct of a culti- 
vated mind for the appreciation of them aright. 
The accomplished author(or authoress) of this book 
indeed justifies this omission on the ground that a 
work on synonyms has to do with the present rela- 
tive value of words, not with their roots and deri- 
vations ; and, further, that a reference to these 
often brings in what is only a disturbing force in the 
process, tending to confuse rather than to clear. 
But while it is quite true that words will often ride 

* [On this matter see the New English Dictionary (s. v. authentic). 
It will there be found that the prevailing sense of * authentic ' is reliable, 
trustworthy, of established credit; it being often used by writers on 
Christian Evidences in contradistinction to « genuine.' However, the 
Dictionary shows us that careful writers used the word in the sense of 
' genuine,' of undisputed origin, not forged or apocryphal: there is a cita- 
tion bearing witness to this meaning from Paley. The Greek avQerrt- 
xoi meant 'of first-hand authority, original.' ] 


very slackly at anchor on their etymologies, will be 
borne hither and thither by the shifting tides and 
currents of usage, yet are they for the most part 
still holden by them. Very few have broken away 
and drifted from their moorings altogether. A 
1 novelist/ or writer of new tales in the present day, 
is very different from a ' novelist ' or upholder oinew 
theories in politics and religion, of two hundred 
years ago ; yet the idea of newness is common to 
them both. A * naturalist ' was once a denier of re- 
vealed truth, of any but natural religion ; he is now 
an investigator, often a devout one, of nature znd of 
her laws; yet the word has remained true to its 
etymology all the while. A ' methodist ' was for- 
merly a follower of a certain ' method ' of phil- 
osophical induction, now of a ' method' in the ful- 
filment of religious duties ; but in either case 
' method/ or orderly progression, is the central idea 
of the word. Take other words which have changed 
or modified their meaning — ' plantations ' for in- 
stance, which were once colonies of men (and in- 
deed we still ' plant ' a colony), but are now nurser- 
ies of trees, and you will find the same to hold good. 
' Ecstasy ' was madness ; it is intense delight ; but 
has in no wise thereby broken with the meaning 
from which it started, since it is the nature alike of 
madness and of joy to set men out of and beside 

And even when the fact is not so obvious as in 
these cases, the etymology of a word exercises an 
unconscious influence upon its uses, oftentimes makes 
itself felt when least expected, so that a word, after 


seeming quite to have forgotten, will after longest 
wanderings return to it again. And one main de- 
vice of great artists in language, such as would fain 
evoke the latent forces of their native tongue, will 
very often consist in reconnecting words by their 
use of them with their original derivation, in not 
suffering them to forget themselves and their origin, 
though they would. How often and with what 
signal effect does Milton compel a word to return 
to its original source, 4 antiquam exquirefe matrem* ; 
while yet how often the fact that he is doing thia 
passes even by scholars unobserved * Moreover, 

* Every one who desires, as he reads Milton, thoroughly to under- 
stand him, will do well to be ever on the watch for such recalling, upon 
his part, of words to their primitive sense; and as often as he detects, to 
make accurate note of it for his own use. and, so far as he is a teacher, 
for the use of others. Take a few examples out of many: 'afflicted' 
{P. L. i. 186); ' alarmed ' (P L. iv. 985); « ambition ' (P. Z. i. 262; S. 
A. 247); 'astonished ' (P. Z. i. 266); * chaos* (P. Z. vi. 55); 'diamond ' 
(P. Z. vi. 364); ' emblem ' (P. Z. iv. 703); « emperic ' (P. Z. v. 440); 
•engine' (P. Z. i. 750); 'entire ' (=integer, P. Z. ix. 292); 'extenuate ' 
(P. Z. x. 645); ' illustrate ' (P. Z. v. 739); ' implicit ' (P. Z. vii. 323); 
' indorse ' (P. R. iii. 329); 'infringe ' (P. P. i. 62); 'mansion * (Com. 2); 
'moment ' (P. Z. x. 45); 'oblige ' {P. Z. ix. 980); « person ' (P Z. x. 
156); ' pomp ' (P. Z. viii. 61); 'sagacious ' (P. Z. x. 281); ' savage ' (P. 
Z. iv. 172); 'scene* (P. Z. iv. 140); 'secular ' (S. A. 1707); 'secure' 
(P. Z. vi. 638); « seditious ' (P. L. vi. 152); ' transact ' (P. L. vi. 286); 
« voluble ' {P. L. ix. 436). We may note in Jeremy Taylor a similar 
reduction of words to their origins; thus, ' insolent ' for unusual, ' metal ' 
for mine, ' irritation ' for a making vain, * extant ' for standing out 
(applied to a bas-relief), ' contrition ' for bruising (' the contrition of 
the serpent '), « probable ' for worthy of approval ( * a probable doctor '). 
The author of the excellent Lexique de la Langue de Corneille claims 
the same merit for him and for his great contemporaries or immediate 
successors: Faire rendre aux mots tout ce qu'ils peuvent donner, en varier 
habilement les deceptions et les nuances, les ramener a leur origine, let 


even if all this were not so, yet the past history of 
a word, a history that must needs start from its der- 
ivation, how soon soever this may be left behind, 
can hardly be disregarded, when we are seeking to 
ascertain its present value. What Barrow says is 
quite true, that ' knowing the primitive meaning of 
words can seldom or never determine their meaning 
anywhere, they often in common use declining from 
it ' ; but though it cannot ' determine,' it can as 
little be omitted or forgotten, when this determi- 
nation is being sought. A man may be wholly 
different now from what once he was ; yet not the 
less to know his antecedents is needful, before we 
can ever perfectly understand his present self; and 
the same holds good with words. 

There is a moral gain which synonyms will some- 
times yield us, enabling us, as they do, to say 
exactly what we intend, without exaggerating or 
putting more into our speech than we feel in our 
hearts, allowing us to be at once courteous and 
truthful. Such moral advantage there is, for ex- 

retremper frequemment a leur source etymologique, constituait un des 
secrets principaux des grands ecrivains du dix-septieme siecle. It is 
this putting of old words in a new light, and to a new use, though that 
will be often the oldest of all, on which Horace sets so high a store: 

Dixeris egregie, notum si callida verbum 
Reddiderit junctura novum; 

and not less Montaigne: 'The handling and utterance of fine wits is 
that which sets off a language; not so much by innovating it, as by 
putting it to more vigorous and various service, and by straining, bend- 
ing and adapting it to this. They do not create words, but they enrich 
their own, and give them weight and signification by the uses they put 
them to. 9 


ample, in the choice which we have between the 
Words ' to felicitate ' and ' to congratulate/ for the 
expressing of our sentiments and wishes in regard 
of the good fortune that may happen to others. 
To 'felicitate' another is to wish him happiness, 
without affirming that his happiness is also ours. 
Thus, out of that general good will with which 
we ought to regard all, we might 'felicitate' one 
almost a stranger to us ; nay, more, I can hon- 
estly ' felicitate ' one on his appointment to a post, 
or attainment of an honor, even though I may 
not consider him the fittest to have obtained it, 
though I should have been glad if another had done 
so ; I can desire and hope, that is, that it may bring 
all joy and happiness to him. But I could not, without 
a violation of truth, ' congratulate ' him, or that stran- 
ger whose prosperity awoke no lively delight in my 
heart ; for when I ' congratulate ' a person (congrat- 
ulor), I declare that I am sharer in his joy, that what 
has rejoiced him has rejoiced also me. We have all, 
I dare say, felt, even without having analyzed the dis- 
tinction between the words, that ' congratulate ' is 
a far heartier word than ' felicitate/ and one with 
which it much better becomes us to welcome the 
good fortune of a friend ; and the analysis, as you 
perceive, perfectly justifies the feeling. 'Felicita- 
tions ' are little better than compliments ; ' congrat- 
ulations ' are the expression of a genuine sym- 
pathy and joy. 

Let me illustrate the importance of synonymous 
distinctions by another example, by the words, 
' to invent 9 and ' to discover ' ; or ' invention " 


and * discovery.' How slight may seem to us the 
distinction between them, even if we see any at 
all. Yet try them a little closer, try them, which 
is the true proof, by aid of examples, and you will 
perceive that they can by no means be indifferently 
used ; that, on the contrary, a great truth lies at the 
root of their distinction. Thus we speak of the ' in- 
vention ' of printing, of the * discovery ' of America. 
Shift these words, and speak for instance of the ' in- 
vention ' of America ; you feel at once how unsuit- 
able the language is. And why ? Because Columbus 
did not make that to be, which before him had not 
been. America was there, before he revealed it to 
European eyes ; but that which before was, he 
showed to be ; he withdrew the veil which hitherto 
had concealed it ; he * discovered ' it. So too we 
speak of Newton * discovering ' the law of gravita- 
tion ; he drew aside the veil whereby men's eyes 
were hindered from perceiving it, but the law had 
existed from the beginning of the world, and would 
have existed whether he or any other man had 
traced it or no ; neither was it in any way affected 
by the discovery of it which he had made. But 
Gutenberg, or whoever else it may be to whom the 
honor belongs, 4 invented ' printing ; he made some- 
thing to be, which hitherto was not. In like man- 
ner Harvey * discovered' the circulation of the 
blood ; but Watt ' invented ' the steam engine ; and 
we speak, with a true distinction, of the ' inventions * 
of Art, the ' discoveries ' of Science. In the very 
highest matters of all, it is deeply important that 
we be aware of and observe the distinction. In re- 


ligion there have been many * discoveries/ but (in 
true religion I mean) no 'inventions/ Many dis- 
coveries — but God in each case the discoverer ; He 
draws aside the veils, one veil after another, that 
have hidden Him from men : the discovery or reve- 
lation is from Himself, for no man by searching 
has found out God ; and therefore wherever any- 
thing offers itself as an 'invention* in matters of re- 
ligion, it proclaims itself a lie, — as are all self- 
devised worships, all religions which man projects 
from his own heart. Just that is known of God 
which He is pleased to make known, and no more ; 
and men's recognizing or refusing to recognize in 
no way affects it. They may deny or may acknowl- 
edge Him, but He continues the same. 

As involving in like manner a distinction which 
cannot safely be lost sight of, how important the 
difference, the existence of which is asserted by our 
possession of the two words, 'to apprehend' and 
'to comprehend/ with their substantives 'appre- 
hension' and 'comprehension.' For indeed we 
' apprehend ' many truths, which we do not ' com- 
prehend.' The great mysteries of our faith — the 
doctrine, for instance, of the Holy Trinity, we lay 
hold upon it, we hang on it, our souls live by it ; 
but we do not ' comprehend ' it, that is, we do not 
take it all in ; for it is a necessary attribute of God 
that He is incomprehensible; if He were not so, 
either He would not be God, or the Being that 
comprehended Him would be God also (Matt. xi. 
27). But it also belongs to the idea of God that 
He may be 'apprehended/ though not 'awspre- 


hended,' by his reasonable creatures ; He has made 
them to know Him, though not to know Him all, to 
' tf/prehend,' though not to ' comprehend ' Him. 
We may transfer with profit the same distinction to 
matters not quite so solemn. Thus I read Gold- 
smith's Traveller \ or one of Gay's Fables, and I 
feel that I ' comprehend ' it ; — I do not believe, that 
is, that there was anything stirring in the poet's 
mind or intention, which I have not in the reading 
reproduced in my own. But I read Hamlet, or 
King Lear: here I ' apprehend ' much ; I have 
wondrous glimpses of the poet's intention and aim ; 
but I do not for an instant suppose that I have 
' comprehended/ taken in, that is, all that was in 
his mind in the writing ; or that his purpose does 
not stretch in manifold directions far beyond the 
range of my vision ; and I am sure there are few 
who would not shrink from affirming, at least if 
they at all realized the force of the words they 
were using, that they ' comprehended ' Shakespeare; 
however much they may ' apprehend ' in him. 

How often ' opposite ' and ' contrary ' are used as 
if there was no difference between them, and yet 
there is a most essential one, one which perhaps 
we may best express by saying that ' opposites ' 
complete, while 4 contraries ' exclude one another. 
Thus the most ' opposite ' moral or mental charac- 
teristics may meet in one and the same person, 
while to say that the most * contrary' did so, 
would be manifestly absurd ; for example, a soldier 
may be at once prudent and bold, for these are op- 
posites ; he could not be at once prudent and rash, 


for these are contraries. We may love and fear at 
the same time and the same person ; we pray in 
the Litany that we may love and dread God, the 
two being opposites, and thus the complements of 
one another ; but to pray that we might love and 
hate would be as illogical as it would be impious, for 
these are contraries, and could no more co-exist 
together than white and black, hot and cold, in 
the same subject at the same time. Or to take 
another illustration, sweet and sour are * opposites, 9 
sweet and bitter are ' contraries.'* It will be seen 
then that there is always a certain relation be- 
tween * opposites ' ; they unfold themselves, though 
in different directions, from the same root, as the 
positive and negative forces of electricity, and in 
their very opposition uphold and sustain one an- 
other; while * contraries ' encounter one another from 
quarters quite diverse, and one only subsists in the 
exact degree that it puts out of working the other. 
Surely this distinction cannot be an unimportant 
one either in the region of ethics or elsewhere. 

It will happen continually, that rightly to dis- 
tinguish between two words will throw a flood of 
light upon some controversy in which they play a 
principal part, nay, may virtually put an end to 
that controversy altogether. Thus when Hobbes, 
with a true instinct, would have laid deep the 
foundations of atheism and despotism together, re- 
solving all right into might, and not merely rob- 
bing men, if he could, of the power, but denying to 
them the duty, of obeying God rather than man, 

* See Coleridge, Church and State, p. 18. 


his sophisms could stand only so long as it was 
not perceived that ' compulsion ' and f obligation/ 
with which he juggled, conveyed two ideas perfect- 
ly distinct, indeed disparate, in kind. Those soph- 
isms of his collapsed at once, so soon as it was 
perceived that what pertained to one had been 
transferred to the other by a mere confusion of 
terms and cunning sleight of hand, the former 
being a physical, the latter a moral, necessity. 

There is indeed no such fruitful source of confusion 
and mischief as this — two words are tacitly assumed 
as equivalent, and therefore exchangeable, and 
then that which may be assumed, and with truth, 
of one, is assumed also of the other, of which it is 
not true. Thus, for instance, it often is with ' in- 
struction ' and ' education/ Cannot we ' instruct ' 
a child, it is asked, cannot we teach it geography, 
or arithmetic, or grammar, quite independently of 
the Catechism, or even of the Scriptures ? No doubt 
you may; but can you * educate/ without bringing 
moral and spiritual forces to bear upon the mind 
and affections of the child ? And you must not be 
permitted to transfer the admissions which we 
freely make in regard of ' instruction/ as though 
they also held good in respect of * education/ 
For what is ' education ' ? Is it a furnishing of a 
man from without with knowledge and facts and 
information ? or is it a drawing forth from within 
and a training of the spirit, of the true humanity 
which is latent in him ? Is the process of education 
the filling of the child's mind, as a cistern is filled 
with waters brought in buckets from some other 


source ? or the opening up for that child of foun- 
tains which are already there ? Now if we give 
any heed to the word ' education/ and to the voice 
which speaks therein, we shall not long be in 
doubt. Education must educe, being from 'edu- 
care/ which is but another form of ' educere ' ; 
and that is to draw out, and not to put in. ' To 
draw out ' what is in the child, the immortal spirit 
which is there, this is the end of education ; and so 
much the word declares. The putting in is in- 
deed most needful, that is, the child must be in- 
structed as well as educated, and 'instruction 9 
means furnishing ; but not instructed instead of 
educated. He must first have powers awakened 
in him, measures of value given him ; and then 
he will know how to deal with the facts of this 
outward world ; then instruction in these will profit 
him ; but not without the higher training, still 
less as a substitute for it. 

It has occasionally happened that the question 
which out of two apparent synonyms should be 
adopted in some important state document has 
been debated with no little earnestness and passion; 
as at the great English Revolution of 1688, when 
the two Houses of Parliament were at issue whether 
it should be declared of James II. that he had 
'abdicated,' or had 'deserted/ the throne. This 
might seem at first sight a mere strife about 
words, and yet, in reality, serious constitutional 
questions were involved in the debate. The Com- 
mons insisted on the word ' abdicated/ not as 
wishing to imply that in any act of the late king 


there had been an official renunciation of the 
crown, which would have been manifestly untrue ; 
but because * abdicated ' in their minds alone ex- 
pressed the fact that James had so borne himself 
as virtually to have entirely renounced, disowned, 
and relinquished the crown, to have forfeited and 
separated himself from it, and from any right to 
it for ever ; while ' deserted ' would have seemed 
to leave room and an opening for a return, which 
they were determined to declare for ever excluded; 
as were it said of a husband that he had * deserted ' 
his wife, or of a soldier that he had * deserted ' his 
colors, this language would imply not only that he 
might, but that he was bound to return. The 
speech of Lord Somers on the occasion is a masterly 
specimen of synonymous discrimination, and an ex- 
ample of the uses in highest matters of state to which 
it may be turned. As little was it a mere verbal 
struggle when, at the restoration a good many 
years ago of our interrupted relations with Persia, 
Lord Palmerston insisted that the Shah should ad- 
dress the Queen of England not as ' Maleketh ' but 
as * Padischah,' refusing to receive letters which 
wanted this superscription. 

Let me press upon you, in conclusion, some few 
of the many advantages to be derived from the 
habit of distinguishing synonyms. These advan- 
tages we might presume to be many, even though 
we could not ourselves perceive them ; for how often 
do the greatest masters of style in every tongue, 
perhaps none so often as Cicero, the greatest of 


all,* pause to discriminate between the words 
they are using ; how much care and labor, how 
much subtlety of thought, they have counted well 
bestowed on the operation ; how much importance 
they avowedly attach to it ; not to say that their 
works, even where they do not intend it, will afford 
a continual lesson in this respect ; a great writer 
merely in the precision and accuracy with which 
he employs words will always be exercising us in 
synonymous distinction. But the advantages of 

* Thus he distinguishes between 'voluntas' and 'cupiditas'; 
'cautio' and 'metus' (Tusc. iv. 6); 'gaudium,' 'laetitia,' 'voluptas' 
(Tusc. iv. 6; Fin. ii. 4); 'prudentia' and 'sapientia' (Off. i. 43); 
* caritas ' and ' amor ' (De Part Or. 25); ' ebrius ' and ' ebrioeus,' ' im- 
cundus'and 'iratus,' * anxietas ' and 'angor' (Tusc. iv. 12); 'vitium,' 
« morbus,' and 'aegrotatio ' (Tusc. iv. 13); • labor' and 'dolor' (Tusc. 
ii. 15); ' furor ' and ' insania ' ( Tusc. iii. 5); ' malitia ' and ' vitiositas ' 
(Tusc. iv. 15); <doctus' and 'peritus' (Off. i. 3). Quintilian also 
often bestows attention on synonyms, observing well (vi. 3. 17): 
' Pluribus nominibus in eadem re vulgo utimur; qua? tamen si diducas, 
suam quandam propriam vin ostendent '; he adduces * salsum,' ' urba- 
num,' 'facetum'; and elsewhere (v. 3) 'rumor' and 'ferna' are 
discriminated happily by him. Among Church writers Augustine is a 
frequent and successful discriminator of words. Thus he separates off 
from one another « flagitium ' and • acinus' (De Doct. Christ, iii. 10); 
'semulatio' and • invidia ' (Expl. ad Gal. x. 20); 'arena' and 'pignus' 
(Sen*. 23. 8, 9); 'studiosus' and 'curiosus' (De Util. Cred. 9); 
'sapientia' and 'scientia' (De Div. Quas. 2 qu. 2); 'senecta' and 
•senium' (Enarr. in Ps. 70. 18); 'schisma' and 'haresis' (Con. 
Cresc. 2. 7); with many more (see my Synonyms of the N. T. Prefece, 
p. xvi). Among the merits of the Grimms' Wbrterbuch is the care 
which they, and those who have taken up their work, bestow on the 
discrimination of synonyms; distinguishing, for example, ' degen ' and 
' schwert '; « feld,' • acker ' and ' heide ' ; * aar * and ' adler ' ; ' antliU ' 
and 'angesicht'; 'kelch,' 'becher' and 'glas'; 'frau'and 'weib'; 
' butter,' 'schmalz ' and ' anke '; ' kopf * and ' haupt '; ' klug ' and 
and ' weise '; • geben ' and • schenken '; ' heirath ' and • ehe.' 


attending to synonyms need not be taken on trust; 
they are evident. How large a part of true wisdom 
it is to be able to distinguish between things that 
differ, things seemingly, but not really, alike, is 
very remarkably attested by our words ' discern- 
ment ' and * discretion ' ; which are now used as 
equivalent, the first to insight,' the second to 
4 prudence ' ; while yet in their earlier usage, and 
according to their etymology, being both from 
' discerno/ they signify the power of so seeing 
things that in the seeing we distinguish and sepa- 
rate them one from another.* Such were originally 
'discernment' and ' discretion/ and such in great 
measure they are still. And in words is a material 
ever at hand on which to train the spirit to a skil- 
fulness in this ; on which to exercise its sagacity 
through the habit of distinguishing there where it 
would be so easy to confound.t Nor is this habit of 

* L'esprit consiste a connaltre la ressemblance des choses diverses, et 
la difference des choses semblables (Montesquieu). Saint-Evremond 
says of a reunion of the Precieuses at the Hotel Rambouillet, with a 
raillery which is not meant to be disrespectful — 

'Lasefont distinguer les nertes des rigueurs, 
Les declains des mepris, les tourments des langueurs; 
On y sait demeler la crainte et les alarmes, 
Discerner les attraits, les appas et les charmes.' 
f I will suggest here a few pairs or larger groups of words on which 
those who are willing to exercise themselves in the distinction of syno- 
nyms might perhaps profitably exercise their skill; — 'fame,' ' popu- 
larity, ' •celebrity,' 'reputation,' 'renown'; — 'misfortune,' 'calamity,' 
'disaster'; — 'impediment,' 'obstruction,' 'obstacle,'/ 'hindrance'; — 
'temerity,' 'audacity,' 'boldness'; — 'rebuke,' 'reprimand,' 'censure,' 
'J>lame'; — 'adversary,' 'opponent,' 'antagonist,' 'enemy'; — 'rival,' 
« competitor ' ; — ' affluence,' ' opulence,' ' abundance,' « redundance ' ;— 


discrimination only valuable as a part of our intel- 
lectual training ; but what a positive increase is it 
of mental wealth when we have learned to discern 
between things which really differ, and have made 
the distinctions between them permanently our 
own in the only way whereby they can be made se- 
cure, that is, by assigning to each its appropriate 
word and peculiar sign. 

In the effort to trace lines of demarcation you 
may little by little be drawn into the heart of 
subjects the most instructive ; for only as you have 
thoroughly mastered a subject, and all which is 
most characteristic about it, can you hope to trace 
these lines with accuracy and success. Thus a 
Roman of the higher classes might bear four names : 
' praenomen/ ' nomen/ ' cognomen/ * agnomen ' ; 
almost always bore three. You will know some- 
thing of the political and family life of Rome when 
you can tell the exact story of each of these, and 
the precise difference between them. He will not 
be altogether ignorant of the Middle Ages and of 
the clamps which in those ages bound society 
together, who has learned exactly to distinguish 

•conduct,' 'behavior,* ♦demeanor,' 'bearing';—' execration,' 'male- 
diction,' ' imprecation,' ' anathema '; — ' avaricious,' ' covetous,' ' miser- 
ly,' 'niggardly';—' hypothesis,' 'theory,' 'system' (see De Quincey, 
Lit, Rem. American ed. p. 229); — 'masculine,' 'manly ';— « effemi- 
nate,' 'feminine'; — 'womanly,' 'womanish'; — 'malicious,' 'malig- 
nant ';— ' savage,' ' barbarous,' ' fierce,' ' cruel,' ' inhuman ';— 'low,' 
* mean,' ' abject,' ' base ';— ' to chasten,' « to punish,' « to chastise '; — 
•to exile,' 'to banish';— ' to declare,' 'to disclose,' 'to reveal,' 'to 
divulge'; — 'to defend' 'to protect,' 'to shelter *;—« to excuse,' «to 
palliate ';— ' to compel,' 'to coerce,' ' to constrain,' ' to force/ 


between a 'fief and a 'benefice.' He will have 
obtained a firm grasp on some central facts of 
theology who can exactly draw out the distinction 
between ' reconciliation/ ' propitiation/ ' atone- 
ment/ as used in the New Testament ; of Church 
history, who can trace the difference between a 
1 schism ' and a ' heresy.' One who has learned to 
discriminate between ' detraction ' and ' slander/ as 
Barrow has done before him,* or between ' emula- 
tion ' and ' envy/ in which South has excellently 
shown him the way,t or between ' avarice ' and ' cov- 
etousness/ with Cowley, will have made no unprof- 
itable excursion into the region of ethics. 

How effectual a help, moreover, will it prove to 
the writing of a good English style, if instead of 
choosing almost at hap-hazard from a group of 
words which seem to us one about as fit for our 
purpose as another, we at once know which, and 
which only, we ought in the case before us to em- 
ploy, which will prove the exact vesture of our 
thoughts. It is the first characteristic of a well- 
dressed man that his clothes fit him : they are not 
too small and shrunken here, too large and loose 
there. Now it is precisely such a prime character- 
istic of a good style, that the words fit close to the 
thoughts. They will not be too big here, hanging 
like a giant's robe on the limbs of a dwarf ; nor too 

* ' Slander involveth an imputation of falsehood, but detraction may 
be couched in truth, and clothed in fair language, k is a poison often 
infused in sweet liquor, and ministered in a golden cup.' Compare 
Spenser, Fairy Queen, 5. 12. 2^-43. 

f Sermons, 1737, vol. v. p. 403. His words are quoted in my Select 
Glossary, s. v. * Emulation.' 


small there, as a boy's garments into which the 
man has painfully and ridiculously thrust himself. 
You do not, as you read, feel in one place that the 
writer means more than he has succeeded in saying ; 
in another that he has said more than he means ; 
in a third something beside what his precise inten- 
tion was ; in a fourth that he has failed to convey 
any meaning at all ; and all this from a lack of 
skill in employing the instrument of language, of 
precision in knowing what words would be the ex- 
actest correspondents and aptest exponents of his 

What a wealth of words in almost every language 
lies inert and unused ; and certainly not fewest in 
our own. How much of what might be as current 
coin among us, is shut up in the treasure-house of a 
few classical authors, or is never to be met at all 
but in the columns of the dictionary, we meanwhile, 
in the midst of all this riches, condemning ourselves 
to a voluntary poverty ; and often, with tasks the 
most delicate and difficult to accomplish, — for surely 
the clothing of thought in its most appropriate gar- 
ment of words is such, — needlessly depriving our- 
selves of a large portion of the helps at our com- 
mand ; like some workman who, being furnished for 
an operation that will challenge all his skill with a 

* La propria des termes est le caractere distinctif des grands ecri- 
vains; c'est par la que leur style est tou jours au niveau de leur sujet; 
c'est a cette qualite* qu'on reconnait le vrai talent d'ecrire, et non a 
Part futile de deguiser par un vain colons lesidees communes. So 
D'Alembert; but Caesar long before had said, Delectus verborum, elo- 
quentiae origo. 


dozen different tools, each adapted for its own spe- 
cial purpose, should in his indolence and self-conceit 
persist in using only one ; doing coarsely what 
might have been done finely ; or leaving altogether 
undone that which, with such assistances, was quite 
within his reach. And thus it comes to pass that 
in the common intercourse of life, often too in books, 
a certain restricted number of words are worked al- 
most to death, employed in season and out of sea- 
son — a vast multitude meanwhile being rarely, if at 
all, called to render the service which they could 
render far better than any other ; so rarely, indeed, 
that little by little they slip out of sight and are for- 
gotten nearly or altogether. And then, perhaps, 
at some later day, when their want is felt, the ignor- 
ance into which we have allowed ourselves to fall, 
of the resources offered by the language to satisfy 
new demands, sends us abroad in search of outland- 
ish substitutes for words which we already possess 
at home.* It was, no doubt, to avoid so far as pos- 
sible such an impoverishment of the language which 
he spoke and wrote, for the feeding of his own speech 
with words capable of serving him well, but in dan- 
ger of falling quite out of his use, that the great 
Lord Chatham had Bailey's Dictionary, the best of 
his time, twice read to him from one end to the 

And let us not suppose the power of exactly say- 
ing what we mean, and neither more nor less than 

* Thus I observe in modern French the barbarous * derailler,' to get 
off the rail; and this while it only needed to recall ' derayer ' from the 
oblivion into which it had been allowed to fell. 


we mean, to be merely a graceful mental accom- 
plishment. It is indeed this, and perhaps there 
is no power so surely indicative of a high and ac- 
curate training of the intellectual faculties. But it 
is much more than this : it has a moral value as 
well. It is nearly allied to morality, inasmuch as 
it is nearly connected with truthfulness. Every man 
who has himself in any degree cared for the truth, 
and occupied himself in seeking it, is more or less 
aware how much of the falsehood in the world passes 
current under the concealment of words, how many 
strifes and controversies, 

' Which feed the simple, and offend the wise/ 

find all or nearly all the fuel that maintains them 
in words carelessly or dishonestly employed. And 
when a man has had any actual experience of this, 
and at all perceived how far this mischief reaches, 
he is sometimes almost tempted to say with Shake- 
speare, ' Out, idle words, servants to shallow fools '; 
to adopt the saying of his clown, * Words are grown 
so false I am loathe to prove reason with them. 9 
He cannot, however, forego their employment; not 
to say that he will presently perceive that this 
falseness of theirs whereof he accuses them, this 
cheating power, is not of their proper use, but only 
of their abuse ; he will see that, however they may 
have been enlisted in the service of lies, they are 
yet of themselves most true ; and that, where the 
bane is, there the antidote should be sought as well. 
If Goethe's Faust denounces words and the falsehood 
of words, it is by the aid of words that he does it. 


Ask then words what they mean, that you may 
deliver yourselves, that you may help to deliver 
others, from the tyranny of words, and, to use Bax- 
ter's excellent phrase, from the strife of 'word- 
warriors.' Learn to distinguish between them, for 
you have the authority of Hooker, that * the mixture 
of those things by speech, which by nature are 
divided, is the mother of all error/* And although 
I cannot promise you that the study of synonyms, 
or the acquaintance with derivations, or any other 
knowledge but the very highest knowledge of all, 
will deliver you from the temptation to misuse this 
or any other gift of God — a temptation always lying 
so near us — yet I am sure that these studies rightly 
pursued will do much in leading us to stand in awe 
of this gift of speech, and to tremble at the thought 
of turning it to any other than those worthy ends 
for which God has endowed us with a faculty so 

* See on all this matter in Locke's Essay on Human Understanding, 
chapters 9, 10 and 1 1 of the 3rd book, certainly the most remarkable 
in the essay; they bear the following titles: Of the Imperfection of 
Words, Of the Abuse of Words, Of the Remedies of the Imperfection 
and Abuse of Words. 





I. Definition and discussion of synonyms, 
i. Synonyms defined. 

2. " Synonym " and " synonymous" misnomers. 

3. Ordinary use of these terms. 

* 4. Words never exactly synonymous. 

5. Opinion of Bentley. 

6. Words the enclosures of thought. 

7. Nations draw different lines. 

II. Difficulties caused by synonyms. 

1. Losses involved in translation. 

2. Translation of Holy Scripture. 

3. Perplexity of missionary translator!. 

(a.) In China. 
(&.) At the Reformation. 
III. Synonyms described. 

1. Not absolutely identical. 

2. Not remotely similar. 

3. More or less liable to confusion. 

4. But not to be confounded. 


IV. Causes of synonyms. 
i. Union of dialects. 
(a.) Langue <VOc. 
(b.) Langue <V Oil. 

2. Different forms of the same word. 

(a.) "Serpo"and"repo." 
(b.) " Odem M and " athem." 

3. Conquest. 

4. Preference. 

(a.) " Electrum." 
(b.) "Trick." 
(c.) " Device." 
(d.) " Finesse." 
(e.) "Artifice." 
(f.) " 2t parti? tfna." 


I. Desynonymizing. 

1. A complex state of society causes retrenchment, 

2. Scantness and straitness correct each other i 

ovaia and imocrracris. 

3. Words find their peculiar domain. 

4. Language purifies itself. 

5. Single writers assist it 

(a.) Wordsworth's use of" imagination." 
(b.) Milton's use of " fancy." 
(c.) In Wiclif s time: " famine " and " hunger." 
(</.) Other pairs of words : " clarify " and. 
" glorify," etc. 
II. Discrimination. 

1. Many words waiting for it 

2. Coleridge's testimony. 

3. Ethical gain of discrimination. 

(<*.) " Vengeance " and " revenge." 


III. English and Latin duplicates, 
i. Substantives, " shepherd," etc. 

2. Verbs, " to whiten," etc. 

3. Adjectives, " shady," etc. 

4. Single substantives and duplicate adjectives : 

" burdensome," " onerous," etc. 


I. Acquired distinctions. 

1. Words hold their places by becoming distinct. 

(a.) " Shepherd" and " pastor." 
(6.) " Love" and " charity," etc. 

2. Difference of stock a help, but not essential. 

(a.) " Astronomy" and " astrology." 
(b.) " Despair" and " diffidence." 
(c.) " Interference " and " interposition." 
(d.) " Yes — yea " and " nay — no." 
II. Fundamental distinctions. 

1. "Arrogant," " presumptuous," and " insolent." 

2. " Hate," " loathe," " detest," and " abhor." 
III. Improper distinctions. 

1. " Genuine " and " authentic." 
IV Recent distinctions. 

Common ideas in etymologies :* A 
(a.) " Novelist." 
(fi.) " Naturalist." 
(c.) " Methodist." 
(d.) " Plantation." 
(<?.) " Ecstasy." 
V. Restored distinctions. 

1. Mission of the poet 

2. Milton's etymologies. 

3. Value of primitive meanings. 



I. Moral gain of synonyms. 

1. " FeKcitate " and " congratulate." 

II. Importance of synonymous distinctions. 

1. "To invent " and " to discover." 

2. " Apprehend " and " comprehend." 

3. " Opposite " and " contrary." 

III. Synonyms in controversies. 

1. " Compulsion " and " obligation." 

2. " Instruction" and " education." 

3. " Abdicated " and " deserted." 

4. " Maleketh " and " padischah." 

IV. Careful employment of synonyms. 

1. Cicero's. 

2. Quintilian's. 

3. Augustine's. 

4. Grimms'. 

V. Wisdom of synonymous distinctions. 

1. " Discernment" and " discretion." 

2. " Fame," " popularity," " celebrity," etc. 


I. Fascination of the study of synonyms. 

1. Roman names. 

2. "Fief" and "benefice." 

3. " Reconciliation," " propitiation," and " atone- 


4. " Detraction " and " slander." 

5. " Emulation " and " envy." 

II. Synonyms are an effectual help to a good 
English style. 

1. First characteristic of a well-dressed man. 

2. Prime characteristic of a good style. 

3. Results of a lack of precision. 



i. Buried in classical authors. 

2. Buried in dictionaries. 

3. Overlooked in the search. 

IV. Truth and falsehood of words. 

1. Shakespeare. 

2. Goethe. 

3. Baxter. 

4. Hooker. 


On the Distinction of Words. 

How are synonyms defined and described ? Give the history 
of the word. 

What is shown by the definition ? 

How are the terms ordinarily used ? Why ? 

What is sometimes affirmed of synonyms ? 

What does Bentley say about them ? 

How are words described ? 

What is unlikely ? 

What does this fact lay open to us ? 

What is true of the translator and his translations ? 

What is true of the translation of Holy Scripture ? What of 
the missionary translator ? What of China ? 

What illustration is borrowed from the Reformation ? What 
from an earlier date ? 

Are Synonyms identical ? Are they remotely similar ? Why 
not ? How is this made clear ? 

What kind of words must synonyms be 7 

What question presents itself ? 

What would be the nature of languages made by agreement ? 

How are languages formed ? 

What is true of various tribes of people ? 

How is this illustrated in the French ? 

Give examples of two forms of the same word. 


What is the case with a conquering people, if few in num- 

What compromise takes place ? 

How do authors increase synonyms ? Illustrate by " elec* 

What is the fate of some words thus proposed ? 

Give an example of synonyms from various quarters. 

What is the result of a complex state of society ? 

How is the field of thought enclosed ? 

How does language correct itself? 

Give an example from Church history. 

What is the result of the desynonymizing process ? 

How is it effected ? 

What have single writers to do with it ? 

What is said of " imagination" and " fancy" ? 

What did Wordsworth render impossible ? 

What is quoted from De Quincey ? 

Who coined " to desynonymize " ? ' 

What other words did Coleridge contribute ? 

What is true of " famine " and " hunger " ? 

Name other similar pairs. 

What is said of such discriminations ? How are they justly 
regarded ? 

Illustrate the ethical gain of the distinction of words by 
" vengeance " and " revenge." 

What is the result of the present use of these two words ? 

Why do we have duplicates, triplicates, and even quintupli- 

Mention some duplicate substantives. 

What is true of theology and science ? Give examples. 

Mention some duplicate verbs. 

Mention some duplicate adjectives for single substantives. 

What is true of all such words as the foregoing ? 

How do we use " shepherd " and " pastor " ? u Love " and 
' charity " ? " Ship " and " nave " ? 

Mention other examples. 

What might be urged in reference to these words ? 


Where do we find the same process at work ? Illustrate 
with " astronomy " and " astrology " ; " despair " and " dif- 
fidence " ; " interference " and " interposition." 

What is said about words having a fundamental etymologi- 
cal distinction ? Illustrate with " arrogant," " presumptuous," 
and " insolent" ; " hate," "loathe," " detest," " abhor." 

What is said about improper synonyms ? Illustrate with 
genuine and " authentic." 

What method has been pursued with words thus far ? 

What is said of a book edited by Archbishop Whately ? 

How does the author justify himself? 

What word is adduced in proof? 

How are words attached to their etymologies ? 

Illustrate with "novelist," "naturalist," " methodist," 
" plantation," " ecstasy." 

What is said of the influence of etymologies ? 

How do great writers take advantage of this ? 

What is said of Milton in this respect ? 

Give a few examples from Paradise Lost. 

What is said about the past history of words ? 

What does Barrow say? 

Illustrate the moral gain of synonyms by " felicitate * and 
u congratulate." 

Illustrate the importance of synonymous distinctions by 
" invention " and " discovery." 

Illustrate distinctions which cannot safely be lost sight of by 
" apprehend" and " comprehend " ; " opposite " and " con- 

How are controversies affected by a proper distinction of 
words ? Illustrate. 

What evil results from assuming that words are equivalent ? 
Illustrate with " instruction " and " education." 

Give an example of debated synonyms. 

What strife grew out of the relations of England and Persia 
in reference to a word ? 

What is said of the importance of a careful use of syno- 


Give examples of Cicero's synonyms ; of Quintilian's ; Au- 
gustine's ; of Grimms' Dictionary. 

Illustrate the wisdom of distinguishing between things that 
differ, with the words " discernment" and " discretion." 

Bring out the distinctions between the pairs suggested in the 

How is the habit of discrimination valuable ? 

What will be the result of such a habit? 

How many names did Romans of the upper classes bear ? 
What were they ? What do we learn from them ? What from 
"fief" and "benefice"? 

How can we obtain a firm grasp of some of the central facts 
of theology ? 

What other profitable ethical excursions are suggested ? 

How do nice discriminations help us to obtain a good Eng- 
lish style of writing ? 

How are words and clothing compared ? 

What impressions do we get from a careful writer ? 

What is said about words left unemployed ? Where are 

Of what do we thus deprive ourselves ? 

With what is this compared ? 

What is true of the relative use of words ? 

What is the result ? 

What is said of the power of saying exactly what we mean ? 

What is the case in reference to the truth and falsehood in 
words ? 

What are we tempted to say with Shakespeare ? 

How do we account for the cheating power of words ? 

What is urged in conclusion ? 

What is promised ? 



On the Distinction of Words. 

i. Garrulous. 

2. Loquacious. 

3. Talkative. 

4. Gentle. 

5. Tame. 

6. Mild. 

7. Genius. 

8. Talent 

9. Grave. 

10. Sober. 

11. Serious. 

12. Solemn. 

13. Guess. 

14. Think. 

15. Reckon. 

16. Believe. 

17. Presume. 

18. Suppose. 

19. Humility. 

20. Modesty. 

21. Diffidence. 

22. Ideal. 

23. Fanciful. 

24. Imaginary. 

25. Inattention. 

26. Inadvertency. 

27. Incompetent. 

28. Incapable. 

29. Infidel. 

3a Unbeliever. 

31. Skeptic. 

32. Innuendo. 

33. Hint 

34. Insinuation. 

35. Ponder. 

36. Consider. 

37. Muse. 

38. Reflect 

39. Prevaricate. 

40. Evade. 

41. Equivocate. 

42. Pride. 

43. Vanity. 

44. Prolix. 

45. Diffuse. 

46. Shall. 

47. Will. 

48. Quaint 

49. Odd. 

50. Whimsical 

51. Ransom. 

52. Redemption. 

53. Real. 

54. Actual. 



55. Religion. 

56. Piety. 

57. Sanctity. 

58. Holiness. 

59. Morality. 
6a Remark. 
61 • Observe. 

62. Notice. 

63. Ride. 

64. Drive. 

65. Scholar. 
£&> Pupil. 
67. Section. 

68. District 

69. Region. 

70. Station. 

71. Depot 

72. Expect. 

73. Anticipate. 

74. Canon. 

75. Cannon. 

76. Canon. 

77. Smart. 

78. Clever. 

79. Notion. 
8a Idea. 



AT the Great Exhibition of 1851, there might be 
seen a collection, probably by far the complet- 
est which had ever been got together, of what were 
called the material helps of education. There was 
then gathered in a single room all the outward ma- 
chinery of moral and intellectual training ; all by 
which order might be best maintained, the labor of 
the teacher and the taught economized, with a thou- 
sand ingenious devices suggested by the best expe- 
rience of many minds, and of these during many 
years. Nor were these material helps of education 
merely mechanical. There were in that collection 
vivid representations of places and objects, models 
which often preserved their actual forms and pro- 
portions, not to speak of maps and of books. No 
one who is aware how much in schools, and indeed 
everywhere else, depends on what apparently is 
slight and external, would lightly esteem the helps 
and hints which such a collection would furnish. 
And yet it would be well for us to remember that 
even if we were to obtain all this apparatus in its 
completest form, at the same time possessing the 
most perfect skill in its application, so that it should 
never encumber but always assist us, we should yet 



have obtained very little compared with that which, 
as a help to education, is already ours. When we 
stand face to face with a child, that spoken or un- 
spoken word which the child possesses in common 
with ourselves is a far more potent implement and 
aid of education than all these external helps, even 
though they should be accumulated and multiplied 
a thousandfold. A reassuring thought for those 
who may not have many of these helps within their 
reach, a warning thought for those who might be 
tempted to put their trust in them. On the occa- 
sion of that Exhibition to which I have referred, it 
was well said, ' On the structure of language are 
impressed the most distinct and durable records of 
the habitual operations of the human powers. In 
the full possession of language each man has a vast, 
almost an inexhaustible, treasure of examples of the 
most subtle and varied processes of human thought. 
Much apparatus, many material helps, some of them 
costly, may be employed to assist education ; but 
there is no apparatus which is so necessary, or which 
can do so much, as that which is the most common 
and the cheapest — which is always at hand, and 
ready for every need. Every language contains in 
it the result of a greater number of educational 
processes and educational experiments, than we 
could by any amount of labor and ingenuity ac- 
cumulate in any educational exhibition expressly 
contrived for such a purpose.' 

Being entirely convinced that this is nothing 
more than the truth, I shall endeavor in my closing 
lecture to suggest some ways in which you may 


effectually use this marvellous implement which 
you possess to the better fulfilling of that which you 
have chosen as the proper task of your life. You 
will gladly hear something upon this matter ; for 
you will never, I trust, disconnect what you may 
yourselves be learning from the hope and prospect 
of being enabled thereby to teach others more 
effectually. If you do, and your studies in this way 
become a selfish thing, if you are content to 
leave them barren of all profit to others, of this you 
may be sure, that in the end they will prove not 
less barren of profit to yourselves. In one noble 
line Chaucer has characterized the true scholar : — 

' And gladly would he learn, and gladly teach.' 

Print these words on your remembrance. Resolve 
that in the spirit of this line you will work and live. 
But take here a word or two of warning before 
we advance any further. You cannot, of course, 
expect to make any original investigations in lan- 
guage ; but you can follow safe guides, such as shall 
lead you by right paths, even as you may follow 
such as can only lead you astray. Do not fail to 
keep in mind that perhaps in no region of human 
knowledge are there such a multitude of unsafe 
leaders as in this ; for indeed this science of words 
is one which many, professing for it an earnest 
devotion, have done their best or their worst to 
bring into discredit, and to make a laughing-stock 
at once of the foolish and the wise. Niebuhr has 
somewhere noted ' the unspeakable spirit of absurd- 
ity ' which seemed to possess the ancients, whenever 


they meddled with this subject ; but the charge 
reaches others beside them. Their mantle, it 
must be owned, has in after times often fallen upon 
no unworthy successors. 

What is commoner, even now, than to find the 
investigator of words and their origin looking 
round about him here and there, in all the lan- 
guages, ancient and modern, to which he has any 
access, till he lights on some word, it matters 
little to him in which of these, more or less resem- 
bling that which he wishes to derive ? and this found, 
to consider his problem solved, and that in this 
phantom hunt he has successfully run down his 
prey. Even Dr. Johnson, with his robust, strong, 
English common-sense, too often offends in this 
way. In many respects his Dictionary will prob- 
ably never be surpassed. We shall never have more 
concise, more accurate, more vigorous explanations 
of the actual meaning of words, at the time when it 
was published, than he has furnished. But even 
those who recognize the most fully this merit, must 
allow that he was ill equipped by any preliminary 
studies for tracing the past history of words ; that 
in this he errs often and signally ; sometimes where 
the smallest possible amount of knowledge would 
have preserved him from error ; as for instance when 
he derives the name of the peacock from the peak, 
or tuft of pointed feathers, on its head ! while other 
derivations proposed or allowed by him and others 
are so far more absurd than this, that when Swift, 
in ridicule of the whole band of philologers, sug- 
gests that ' ostler ' is only a contraction of oatstealer, 


and 'breeches' of bear-riches, these etymologies 
are scarcely more ridiculous than many which have 
in sober earnest, and by men of no inconsiderable 
reputation, been proposed. 

Oftentimes in this scheme of random etymology, 
a word in one language is derived from one in 
another, in bold defiance of the fact that no points 
of historic contact or connection, mediate or im- 
mediate, have ever existed between the two ; the 
etymologist not caring to ask himself whether it 
was thus so much as possible that the word should 
have passed from the one language to the other ; 
whether in fact the resemblance is not merely su- 
perficial and illusory, one which, so soon as they are 
stripped of their accidents, disappears altogether. 
Take a few specimens of this manner of dealing with 
words ; and first from the earlier etymologists. 
Thus what are men doing but extending not the 
limits of their knowledge but of their ignorance, 
when they deduce, with Varro, ' pavo ' from ' pavor,' 
because of the fear which the harsh shriek of the 
peacock awakens ; or with Pliny, ' panthera ' from 
nav Orjpiov, because properties of all beasts meet 
in the panther ; or persuade themselves that ' for- 
mica/ the ant, is 'ferens micas/ the grain-bearer. 
Medieval suggestions abound, as vain, and if possi- 
ble, vainer still. Thus Sirens, as Chaucer assures 
us, are ' serenes/ being fair-weather creatures only 
to be seen in a calm.* ' Apis/ a bee, is anovs or 
without feet, bees being born without feet, the ety- 
mology and the natural history keeping excellent 

• Romaunt of the Rose, 678, 


company together. Or what shall we say of deriv- 
ing ' mors ' from ' amarus,' because death is bitter ; 
or from ' Mars/ because death is frequent in war ; 
• amorsu vetiti pomi,' because that forbidden bite 
brought death into the world ; or with a modern 
investigator of language, and one of high reputation 
in his time, deducing 'girl 1 from 'garrula,' because 
girls are commonly talkative ? * 

All experience, indeed, proves how perilous it is 
to etymologize at random, and on the strength of 
mere surface similarities of sound. Let me illustrate 
the absurdities into which this may easily betray us 
by an amusing example. A clergyman, who him- 
self told me the story, had sought, and not unsuc- 
cessfully, to kindle in his schoolmaster a passion for 
the study of derivations. His scholar inquired of 

* Manage is one of these « blind leaders of the blind, ' of whom I have 
spoken above. With all their real, though not very accurate, erudition, 
his three folio volumes, two on French, one on Italian etymologies, have 
done nothing but harm to the cause which they were intended to 
further. Genin (Ricriations Philologiques, pp. 12-15) passes a severe 
but just judgment upon them. Menage, comme tous ses devanciers et la 
plupart de ses successeurs, semble n'avoir 6t€ dirige" que par un seul 
principe en fait d'&ymologie. Le voici dans son expression la plus 
nette. Tout mot vient du mot qui lui ressemble le mieux. Cela pose\ 
Menage, avec son Erudition polyglotte, s'abat sur le grec, le latin, 
Titalien, Tespagnol, Pallemand, le celtique, et ne fait difficulte* d'aller 
jusqu'a Ph€breu. C'est dommage que de son temps on ne cultivat pas 
encore le Sanscrit, Phindoustani, le thib&ain et l'arabe: il les eat contraints 
a lui livrer des etymologies francaises. H ne se met pas en peine des 
chemins par ou un mot h€breu ou carthaginois aurait pu passer pour 
venir s'Stablir en France. II y est, le voila, suffit ! L'identite ne peut 
etre mise en question devant la ressemblance, et souvent Dieu sait 
quelle ressemblance! Compare Ampere, Formation de la tongue 
Franfaise, pp. 194, 195. 


him one day if he were aware of the derivation of 
' crypt ' ? He naturally replied in the affirmative, 
that ' crypt ' came from a Greek word to conceal, 
and meant a covered place, itself concealed, and 
where things which it was wished to conceal were 
placed. The other rejoined that he was quite aware 
the word was commonly so explained, but he had 
no doubt erroneously ; that ' crypt,' as he had now 
convinced himself, was in fact contracted from 
' cry-pit ' ; being the pit where in days of Popish 
tyranny those who were condemned to cruel pen- 
ances were plunged, and out of which their cry was 
heard to come up — therefore called the ' cry-pit/ 
now contracted into ' crypt ' ! Let me say, before 
quitting my tale, that I would far sooner a school- 
master made a hundred such mistakes than that he 
should be careless and incurious in all which con- 
cerned the words which he was using. To make 
mistakes, as we are in the search of knowledge, is 
far more honorable than to escape making them 
through never having set out in this search at all. 

But while errors like his may very well be par- 
doned, of this we may be sure, that they will do 
little in etymology, will continually err and cause 
others to err, who in these studies leave this out of 
sight for an instant — namely, that no amount of 
resemblance between words in different languages is 
of itself sufficient to prove that they are akin, even 
as no amount of apparent unlikeness in sound or 
present form is sufficient to disprove consanguinity. 
'Judge not according to appearances,' must every- 
where here be the rule. One who in many regions 

358 THE schoolmaster's use of words. 

of human knowledge anticipated the discoveries of 
later times, said well a century and a half ago, 
1 Many etymologies are true, which at the first blush 
are not probable ' ; * and, as he might have added, 
many appear probable, which are not true. This 
being so, it is our wisdom on the one side to distrust 
superficial likenesses on the other not to be repelled 
by superficial differences. Have no faith in those 
who etymologize on the strength of sounds, and not 
on that of letters, and of letters, moreover, dealt 
with according to fixed and recognized laws of 
equivalence and permutation. Much, as was said 
so well, is true which does not seem probable. 
Thus ' dens ' t and ' zahn ' and ' tooth ' are all the 
same word, and such in like manner are xv y > ' an- 
ser,' ' gans,' and • goose ; ' and again, daxpv and 
' tear/ Who, on the other hand, would not take 
for granted that our * much ' and the Spanish 
' mucho/ identical in meaning, were also in etymolo- 
gy nearly related ? There is in fact no connection 
between them. Between ' vulgus* and ' volk ' there 
is as little. ' Auge/ the German form of our ' eye,' 
is in every letter identical with a Greek word for 
splendor { a ^VV)\ and yet, intimate as is the con- 
nection between German and Greek, these have no 
relation with one another whatever. Not many 
years ago a considerable scholar identified the 
Greek ' holos ' (o\os) and our ' whole ; ' and few, I 

* Leibnitz (Opp. vol. v. p. 6i): Saepe fit ut etymologise vera sint, 
quae primo aspectu verisimiles non sunt. 

f Compare Max Mflller, Chips from a German Workshop, vol. ftr. p. 
25; Heyse, System der Sprachwissenschaft, p. 307. 


should imagine, have not been tempted at one stage 
of their knowledge to do the same. These also are 
in no way related. Need I remind you here of the 
importance of seeking to obtain in every case the 
earliest spelling of a word which is is attainable ? * 

Here then, as elsewhere, the condition of all suc- 
cessful investigation is to have learned to disre- 
gard phenomena, the deceitful shows and appear- 
ances of things ; to have resolved to reach and to 
grapple with the things themselves. It is the fable 
of Proteus over again. He will take a thousand 
shapes wherewith he will seek to elude and delude 
one who is determined to extort from him that true 
answer, which he is capable of yielding, but will 
only yield on compulsion. The true inquirer is de- 
ceived by none of these. He still holds him fast ; 
binds him in strong chains ; until he takes his proper 
shape at the last ; and answers as a true seer, so 
far as answer is impossible, whatever question 
may be put to him. Nor, let me observe by the 
way, will that man's gain be small who, having so 
learned to distrust the obvious and the plausible, 
carries into other regions of study and of action the 
lessons which he has thus learned ; determines to 
seek the ground of things, and to plant his foot 
upon that; believes that a lie may look very fair, 
and yet be a lie after all ; that the truth may show 
very unattractive, very unlikely and paradoxical, 
and yet be the very truth notwithstanding. 

To return from a long, but not unnecessary 

* What signal gains may in this way be made, no one has shown 
more remarkably than Skeat in his Etymological Dictionary. 


digression. Convinced as I am of the immense ad- 
vantage of following up words to their sources, of 
' deriving ' them, that is, of tracing each little rill 
to the river from whence it was first drawn, I can 
conceive no method of so effectually defacing and 
barbarizing our English tongue, of practically emp- 
tying it of all the hoarded wit, wisdom, imagina- 
tion, and history which it contains, of cutting the 
vital nerve which connects its present with the 
past, as the introduction of the scheme of phonetic 
spelling, which some have lately been zealously 
advocating among us. I need hardly tell you that 
the fundamental idea of this is that all words 
should be spelt as they are sounded, that the writ- 
ing should, in every case, be subordinated to the 
speaking.* This, namely that writing should in 
every case and at all costs be subordinated to 
speaking, which is everywhere tacitly assumed as 
not needing any proof, is the fallacy which runs 
through the whole scheme. There is, indeed, no 
necessity at all for this. Every word, on the con- 
trary, has two existences, as a spoken word and a 
written ; and you have no right to sacrifice one of 
these, or even to subordinate it wholly, to the 
other. A word exists as truly for the eye as for the 
ear; and in a highly advanced state of society, 
where reading is almost as universal as speaking, 

* I do not know whether the advocates of phonetic spelling have 
urged the authority and practice of Augustus as being in their favor. 
Suetonius, among other amusing gossip about this Emperor, records of 
him: Videtur eorum sequi opinionem, qui perinde scribendum ac 
loquamur, existiment (Octavius, c. 88). 


quite as much for the one as for the other. That 
in the written word moreover is the permanence 
and continuity of language and of learning, and 
that the connection is most intimate of a true 
orthography with all this, is affirmed in our words, 
'letters/ 'literature,' 'unlettered/ as in other lan- 
guages by words exactly corresponding to these.* 
The gains consequent on the introduction of such 
a change in our manner of spelling would be insig- 
nificantly small, the losses enormously great. There 
would be gain in the saving of a certain amount of 
the labor now spent in learning to spell. The 
amount of labor, however, is absurdly exaggerated 
by the promoters of the scheme. I forget how 
many thousand hours a phonetic reformer lately as- 
sured us were on an average spent by every Eng- 
lish child in learning to spell ; or how much time 
by grown men, who, as he assured us, for the most 
part rarely attempted to write a letter without a 
Johnson's Dictionary at their side. But even this 
gain would not long remain, seeing that pronuncia- 
tion is itself continually changing ; custom is lord 
here for better and for worse ; and a multitude of 
words are now pronounced in a manner different 
from that of a hundred years ago, indeed from that 
of ten years ago ; so that, before very long, there 
would again be a chasm between the spelling and 
the pronunciation of words; unless indeed the spell- 
ing varied, which it could not consistently refuse to 
do, as the pronunciation varied, reproducing each 
of its capricious or barbarous alterations ; these 
* As ypawazcLy dypd/inazot, littery belles-lettres. 


last, it must be remembered, being changes not in 
the pronunciation only, but in the word itself, 
which would only exist as pronounced, the written 
word being a mere shadow servilely waiting upon 
the spoken. When these changes had multiplied a 
little, and they would indeed multiply exceedingly 
on the removal of the barriers to change which now 
exist, what the language before long would become, 
it is not easy to guess. 

This fact however, though sufficient to show how 
ineffectual the scheme of phonetic spelling would 
prove, even for the removing of those inconven- 
iences which it proposes to remedy, is only the 
smallest objection to it. The far more serious 
charge which may be brought against it is, that in 
words out of number it would obliterate those clear 
marks of birth and parentage, which they bear now 
upon their fronts, or are ready, upon a very slight 
interrogation, to reveal. Words have now an an- 
cestry; and the ancestry of words, as of men, is of- 
ten a very noble possession, making them capable 
of great things, because those from whom they are 
descended have done great things before them ; but 
this would deface their scutcheon, and bring them 
all to the same ignoble level. Words are now a 
nation, grouped into tribes and families, some 
smaller, some larger ; this change would go far to 
reduce them to a promiscuous and barbarous horde. 
Now they are often translucent with their inner 
thought, lighted up by it ; in how many cases 
would this inner light be then quenched ! They 
have now a body and a soul, the soul quickening 


the body; then oftentimes nothing but a body, 
forsaken by the spirit of life, would remain. These 
objections were urged long ago by Bacon, who 
characterizes this so-called reformation, 'that 
writing should be consonant to speaking, 1 as ' a 
branch of unprofitable subtlety;' and especially 
urges that thereby the ' derivations of words, espe- 
cially from foreign languages, are utterly defaced 
and extinguished/ * 

From the results of various approximations to 
phonetic spelling, which at different times have 
been made, and the losses thereon ensuing, we may 
guess what the loss would be were the system fully 

* The same attempt to introduce phonography has been several times 
made, once in the sixteenth century, and again some thirty years ago in 
France. What would be there the results ? We may judge of these from 
the results of a partial application of the system. ' Temps ' is now written 
* terns,' the/ having been ejected as superfluous. What is the conse- 
quence? At once its visible connection with the Latin ' tempus,' with 
the Spanish 'tiempo,' with the Italian 'tempo/ with its own «tem- 
porel ' and ' lemporaire/ is broken, and for many effaced. Or note the 
result from another point of view. Here are * poids ' a weight, ' poix ' 
pitch, 'pois' peas. No one could mark in speaking the distinction 
between these; and thus to the ear there may be confusion between 
them, but to the eye there is none; not to say that the d in * poufe ' putt 
it for us in relation with ' pomras,' the x in * poi* ' with ' pi*,' the s in 
•poLr ' with the Low Latin 'pixum.' In each case the letter which 
these reformers would dismiss as useless, and worse than useless, keeps 
the secret of the word. On some other attempts in the same direction 
see in D'Israeli, Amenities of Literature, an article On Orthography 
and Orthoepy; and compare Diez, Romanische Spraehe, vol. i. p. 52. 
[In the form poids we have a striking example of a wretchedly bad 
spelling which is due to an attempt to make the spelling etymological. 
Unfortunately the etymology is erroneous: the French word for weight 
has nothing in the world to do with Latin pondus; it is the phonetic 
representative of the Latin penswn, and should be spelt /mx.] 


carried out. Of those fairly acquainted with Latin, 
it would be curious to know how many have seen 
* silva ' in * savage/ since it has been so written, and 
not ' salvage/ as of old ? or have been reminded of 
the hindrances to a civilized and human society 
which the indomitable forest, more perhaps than 
any other obstacle, presents. When 'fancy' was 
spelt ' phant'sy/ as by Sylvester in his translation of 
Du Bartas, and other scholarly writers of the seven- 
teenth century, no one could doubt of its identity 
with ' phantasy/ as no Greek scholar could miss its 
relation with q>avraaia. Spell ' analyze ' as J have 
sometimes seen it, and as phonetically it ought to 
be, ' annalize/ and the tap-root of the word is cut. 
How many readers will recognize in it then the 
image of dissolving and resolving aught into its ele- 
ments, and use it with a more or less conscious ref- 
erence to this ? It may be urged that few do so 
even now. The more need they should not be 
fewer ; for these few do in fact retain the word in its 
place, from which else it might gradually drift ; they 
preserve its vitality, and the propriety of its use, not 
merely for themselves, but also for the others that 
have not this knowledge. In phonetic spelling is, 
in fact, the proposal that the learned and the edu- 
cated should of free choice place themselves under 
the disadvantages of the ignorant and uneducated, 
instead of seeking to elevate these last to their own 
more favored condition. 

On this subject one observation more. The mul- 
titude of difficulties of every sort and size which 
would beset the period of transition, and that no 


brief period, from our present spelling to the very 
easiest form of phonetic, seem to me to be almost 
wholly overlooked by those who are the most eager 
to press forward this scheme : while yet it is very 
noticeable that so soon as ever the ' Spelling Reform ' 
approaches, however remotely, a practical shape, 
the Reformers, who up to this time were at issue 
with all the rest of the world, are at once at issue 
among themselves. At once the question comes to 
the front, Shall the labor-pangs of this immense 
new-birth or transformation of English be encoun- 
tered all at once ? or shall they be spriead overyears, 
and little by little the necessary changes intro- 
duced ? It would not be easy to bring together two 
scholars who have bestowed more thought and the 
results of more laborious study on the whole subject 
of phonetic spelling than Mr. Ellis and Dr. Murray 
have done, while yet at the last annual meeting of 
the Philological Society (May 20, 1881) these two 
distinguished scholars, with mutual respect undi- 
minished, had no choice but to acknowledge that, 
while they were seeking the same objects, the means 
by which they sought to attain them were alto- 
gether different, and that, in the judgment of each, 
all which the other was doing in setting forward re- 
sults equally dear to both was only tending to put 
hindrances in the way, and to make the attainment 
of those results remoter than ever.* 

* [For arguments in defence of phonetic spelling the student is 
referred to Sweet's Handbook of Phonetics (Appendix): Skeat's Princi- 
ples of English Etymology, p. 294; Max Mailer's Lectures on the 
Science of Language, ii. 108.] 


But to return. Even now the relationships of 
words, so important for our right understanding of 
them, are continually overlooked; a very little 
matter serving to conceal from us the family to 
which they pertain. Thus how many of our nouns 
are indeed unsuspected participles, or are otherwise 
most closely connected with verbs, with which we 
probably never think of putting them in relation. 
And yet with how lively an interest shall we dis- 
cover those to be of closest kin, which we had 
never considered but as entire strangers to one 
another ; what increased mastery over our mother 
tongue shall we through such discoveries obtain. 
Thus ' wrong ' is the perfect participle of ' to wring,' 
that which has been ' wrung ' or wrested from the 
right ; as in French ' tort/ from ' torqueo,' is the 
twisted. The • brunt ' of the battle is its heat, where 
it ' burns ' the most fiercely ;* the * haft ' of a knife, 
that whereby you ' have ' or hold it. 

This exercise of putting words in their true rela- 
tion and connection with one another might be car- 
ried much further. Of whole groups of words, which 
may seem to acknowledge no kinship with one 
another, it will not be difficult to show that they 
had the same parentage, or, if not this, a cousinship 
in common. For instance, here are ? shore,' ' share,' 
' shears ' ; * shred,' 'sherd ' ; all most closely con- 
nected with the verb ' to sheer.' ' Share ' is a por- 

* [The word brunt is a somewhat difficult form to explain. It is 
probably of Scandinavian origin; compare Danish hynde t heat. For 
the dental suffix-/, see Douse, Gothk % p. 101. The suffix is not parti* 


tion of anything divided off; ' shears ' are instru- 
ments effecting this process of separation ; the 
4 shore ' is the place where the continuity of the land 
is interrupted by the sea ; a ' shred ' is that which is 
shorn from the main piece ; a ' sherd,' as a pot- 
1 sherd,' (also 'pot-share/ Spenser,) that which is 
broken off and thus divided from the vessel ; these 
not all exhausting this group or family of words, 
though it would occupy more time than we can 
spare to put some other words in their relation 
with it. 

But this analyzing of groups of words for the 
detecting of the bond of relationship between them, 
and their common root, may require more etymolog- 
ical knowledge than you possess, and more helps 
from books than you can always command. There 
is another process, and one which may prove no 
less useful to yourselves and to others, which will 
lie more certainly within your reach. You will 
meet in books, sometimes in the same book, and 
perhaps in the same page of this book, a word used 
in senses so far apart from one another that at first 
it will seem to you absurd to suppose any bond of 
connection between them. Now when you thus fall 
in with a word employed in these two or more 
senses so far removed from one another, accustom 
yourselves to seek out the bond which there cer- 
tainly is between these several uses. This tracing 
of that which is common to and connects all its 
meanings can only be done by getting to its centre 
and heart, to the seminal meaning, from which, as 
from a fruitful seed, all the others unfold them- 


selves ; to the first link in the chain, from which 
every later one, in a direct line or a lateral, depends. 
We may proceed in this investigation, certain that 
we shall find such, or at least that such there is to 
be found. For nothing can be more certain than 
this (and the non-recognition of it is a serious 
blemish in Johnson's Dictionary) , that a word has 
originally but one meaning, that all other uses, 
however widely they may diverge from one another 
and recede from this one, may yet be affiliated to it, 
brought back to the one central meaning, which 
grasps and knits them all together ; just as the 
several races of men, black, white, and yellow 
and red, despite of all their present diversity, 
and dispersion, have a central point of unity 
in that one pair from which they all have de- 

Let me illustrate this by two or three familiar 
examples. How various are the senses in which 
' post ' is used ; as ' post '-office ; € post '-haste ; a 
' post ' standing in the ground ; a military € post ' ; 
an official ' post ' ; € to post ' a ledger. Is it possi- 
ble to find anything which is common to all these 
uses of ' post ' ? When once we are on the right 
track, nothing is easier. * Post ' is the Latin ' posi- 
tus,' that which is placed ; the piece of timber is 
' placed ' in the ground, and so a ' post ' ; a military 
station is a ' post,' for a man is ' placed ' in it, and 
must not quit it without orders ; to travel ' post/ 
is to have certain relays of horses ' placed ' at in- 
tervals, that so no delay on the road may occur ; 
the ' post '-office avails itself of this mode of com- 


munication ; to ' post ' a ledger is to ' place ' or 
register its several items. 

Once more, in what an almost infinite number of 
senses ' stock ' is employed ; we have live ' stock/ 
' stock ' in trade or on the farm, the village ' stocks/ 
the * stock ' of a gun, the * stock '-dove, the * stocks ' 
on which ships are built, the ' stock ' which goes 
round the neck, the family * stock/ the ' stocks/ or 
public funds, in which money is invested, with 
other ' stocks ' besides these. What point in com- 
mon can we find between them all? This, that 
being all derived from one verb, they cohere in the 
idea of fixedness which is common to them all. 
Thus, the * stock ' of a gun is that in which the bar- 
rel is fixed ; the village ' stocks ' are those in which 
the feet are fastened ; the 'stock' in trade is the 
fixed capital ; and so too, the 'stock * on the farm, 
although the fixed capital has there taken the 
shape of horses and cattle ; in the ' stocks ' or pub- 
lic funds, money sticks fast, inasmuch as those who 
place it there cannot withdraw or demand the cap- 
ital, but receive only the interest ; the ' stock ' of a 
tree is fast set in the ground ; and from this use of 
the word it is transferred to a family ; the ' stock ' 
is that from which it grows, and out of which it un- 
folds itself. And here we may bring in the ' stock '- 
dove, as being the ' stock ' or stirps of the domestic 
kinds. I might group with these, ' stake ' in both 
its spellings ; a ' stake ' is stuck in the hedge and 
there remains ; the ' stakes ' which men wager 
against the issue of a race are paid down, and thus 
fixed or deposited to answer the event ; a beef- 


• steak ' is a portion so small that it can be stuck 
on the point of a fork; and so forward.* 

When we thus affirm that the divergent mean- 
ings of a word can all be brought back to some one 
point from which, immediately or mediately, they 
every one proceed, that none has primarily more 
than one meaning, it must be remembered that 
there may very well be two words, or, as it will 
sometimes happen, more, spelt as well as pro- 
nounced alike, which yet are wholly different in 
their derivation and primary usage ; and that, of 
course, between such homonyms or homographs as 
these no bond of union on the score of this identity 
is to be sought. Neither does this fact in the 
least invalidate our assertion. We have in them, 
as Cobbett expresses it well, the same combination 
of letters, but not the same word. Thus we have 

* page/ the side of a leaf, from ' pagina,' and ' page, 9 
a small boy ; ' league/ a treaty (F. ligue), from 
'ligare,' to bind, and 'league* (O. F. legue), from 
leuca, a Celtic measure of distance ; * host ' (hostis), 
an army, ' host * (O. F. hoste), from the Latin hos- 
pitem, and 'host' (hostia), in the Roman Catholic 
sacrifice of the mass. We have two 'ounces' 
(uncia and Pers. yiiz); two 'seals' (sigillum and 
seolh); two 'moods' (modus and m6d); two 'sacks' 
(saccus and sec); two 'sounds' (sonus and sund); 
two 'lakes' (lacus and lacca); two 'kennels' (ca- 
nalis and canile) ; two ' partisans ' (partisan and par- 
tegiana); two 'quires' (chceur and cahier); two 

* See the Instructions for Parish Priests y p. 69, published by the 
Early English Texts Society. 


' corns ' (corn and cornu) ; two ' ears ' (ohr and 
&hre); two 'doles' (deuil and theil); two 'perches' 
(pertica and perca) ; two ' races ' (r£s and the 
French race); two ' rocks/ two ' rooks/ two ' sprays/ 
two ' saws/ two ' strains/ two ' trunks/ two ' bur- 
rows/ two ' helms/ two ' quarries ' ; three ' moles/ 
three ' rapes ' (as the ' rape ' of Proserpine, the 
1 rape ' of Bramber, ' rape '-seed) ; four ' ports/ three 
' vans/ three ' smacks.' Other homonyms in the 
language are the following : ' ash/ * barb/ ' bark/ 
4 barnacle/ ' bat/ ' beam/ ' beetle/ ' bill, ' bottle/ 
'bound/ 'breeze/ 'bugle/ 'bull/ ' cape/ ' caper/ 
• chap/ ' cleave/ ' club/ ' cob/ ' crab/ ' cricket/ 
' crop/ ' crowd/ ' culver/ ' dam/ ' elder/ ' flag/ ' fog/ 
'fold," font/ 'fount/ 'gin/ 'gore/ 'grain/ 'grin/ 
'gulf/ 'gum/ 'gust/ 'herd/ 'hind/ 'hip/ 'jade/ 
•jar/ 'jet/ 'junk/ 'lawn/ 'lime/ 'link/ 'mace/ 
'main/ 'mass/ 'mast/ 'match/ 'meal,' 'mint/ 
' moor/ ' paddock/ ' painter/ ' pernicious/ ' plot/ 
'pulse/ 'punch/ 'rush/ 'scale/ 'scrip/ 'shingle/ 
'shock/ 'shrub/ 'smack/ 'soil,' 'stud/ 'swallow/ 
' tap/ ' tent/ ' toil/ ' trinket/ ' turtle.' You will find 
it profitable to follow these up at home, to trace out 
the two or more words which have clothed them- 
selves in exactly the same outward garb, and on 
what etymologies they severally repose ; so too, as 
often as you suspect the existence of homonyms, 
to make proof of the matter for yourselves, gradu- 
ally forming as complete a list of these as you 
can.* You may usefully do the same in any other 

* For a nearly complete list of homonyms in English see List of 
Homonyms at the end of Skeat's Etym, Diet.; Kock's Historical 


language which you study, for they exist in alL 
In them the identity is merely on the surface and 
in sound, and it would, of course, be lost labor to 
seek for a point of contact between meanings which 
have no closer connection with one another in 
reality than they have in appearance. 

Let me suggest some further exercises in this 
region of words. There are some which at once 
provoke and promise to reward inquiry, by the evi- 
dent readiness with which they will yield up the se- 
cret if duly interrogated by us. Many, as we have 
seen, have defied, and will probably defy to the end, 
all efforts to dissipate the mystery which hangs 
over them ; and these we must be content to leave; 
but many announce that their explanations can- 
not be very far to seek. Let me instance 'can- 
didate.' Does it not argue an incurious spirit to 
be content that this word should be given and 
received by us a hundred times, as at a contested 
election it is, and we never ask ourselves, What 
does it mean ? why is one offering himself to the 
choice of his fellows called a ' candidate ' ? If the 
word lay evidently beyond our horizon, we might 
acquiesce in our ignorance ; but resting, as mani- 
festly it does, upon the Latin 'candidus,' it chal- 
lenges inquiry, and a very little of this would at 
once put us in possession of the Roman custom for 
which it witnesses — namely, that such as intended 
to claim the suffrages of the people for any of the 

Grammar of the English Language, vol. i. p. 223; M&tzner's Engl. 
Grammatik, vol. i. pp. 1 87-204; and compare Dwight's Modern Phil 
ology, vol. ii. p. 311. 


chief offices of the State, presented themselves 
beforehand to them in a white toga, being there- 
fore called ' candidate And as it so often happens 
that in seeking information upon one subject we 
obtain it upon another, so will it probably be 
here; for in fully learning what this custom was, 
you will hardly fail to learn how we obtained 
'ambition,' what originally it meant, and how 
Milton should have written — 

4 To reign is worth ambition, though in hell.' 

Or again, any one who knows so much as that 
' verbum ' means a word, might well be struck by 
the fact (and if he followed it up would be led far 
into the relation of the parts of speech to one 
another), that in grammar it is not employed to 
signify any word whatsoever, but restricted to the 
verb alone ; ' verbum ' is the verb. Surely here is 
matter for reflection. What gives to the verb the 
right to monopolize the dignity of being ' the word ' ? 
Is it because the verb is the animating power, the 
vital principle of every sentence, and that without 
which understood or uttered, no sentence can exist ? 
or can you offer any other reason ? I leave this to 
your own consideration. 

We call certain books ' classics.' We have indeed 
a double use of the word, for we speak of the Greek 
and Latin as the 'classical' languages, and the 
great writers in these as ' the classics ' ; while at 
other times you hear of a ' classical ' English style, 
or of English ' classics.' Now ' classic ' is connected 
plainly with ' classis.' What then does it mean in 

374 the schoolmaster's use of words. 

itself, and how has it arrived at this double use ? 
4 The term is drawn from the political economy of 
Rome. Such a man was rated as to his income in 
the third class, such another in the fourth, and so 
on ; but he who was in the highest was emphatically 
said to be of the class, " classicus " — a class man, 
without adding the number, as in that case super- 
fluous ; while all others were infra classem. Hence, 
by an obvious analogy, the best authors were rated 
as "classici," or men of the highest class ; just as in 
English we say " men of rank n absolutely, for men 
who are in the highest ranks of the state.' The 
mental process by which this title, which would 
apply rightly to the best authors in all languages, 
came to be restricted to those only in two, and these 
two to be claimed, to the seeming exclusion of all 
others, as the classical languages, is one constantly 
recurring, making itself felt in all regions of human 
thought ; to which therefore I would in passing call 
your attention, though I cannot now do more. 

There is one circumstance which you must by no 
means suffer to escape your own notice, nor that of 
your pupils — namely, that words out of number, 
which are now employed only in a figurative sense, 
did yet originally rest on some fact of the outward 
world, vividly presenting itself to the imagination ; 
which fact the word has incorporated and knit up 
with itself for ever. If I may judge from my own 
experience, few intelligent boys would not feel that 
they had gained something, when made to under- 
stand that * to insult ' means properly to leap as on 
the prostrate body of a foe ; 'to affront/ to strike 


him on the face; that 'to succor' means by run- 
ning to place oneself under one that is falling ; ' to 
relent/ (connected with 'lentus/ to slacken the 
swiftness of one's pursuit ; * 'to reprehend,' to lay 
hold of one with the intention of forcibly pulling 
him back ; ' to exonerate,* to discharge of a burden, 
ships being exonerated once ; that ' to be exam- 
ined ' means to be weighed. They would be pleased 
to learn that a man is called ' supercilious/ because 
haughtiness with contempt of others expresses it- 
self by the raising of the eyebrows or t supercilium * ; 
that * subtle ' (subtilis for subtexilis) is literally ' fine- 
spun ' ; that ' astonished ' (attonitus) is properly 
thunderstruck ; that ' sincere ' is without wax, sine- 
cera,) as the best and finest honey should be ; that 
a * companion/ probably at least, is one with whom 
we share our bread, a messmate ; that a ' sarcasm/ 
is properly such a lash inflicted by the ' scourge of 
the tongue* as brings away t\& flesh after it ; with 
much more in the same kind. 

' Trivial ' is a word borrowed from the life. Mark 
three or four persons standing idly at the point 
where one street bisects at right angles another, 
and discussing there the idle nothings of the day ; 
there you have the living explanation of ' trivial/ 
1 trivialities/ such as no explanation not rooting it- 
self in the etymology would ever give you, or enable 
you to give to others. You have there the ' tres 
viae/ the ' trivium ' ; and ' trivialities ' properly mean 
such talk as is holden by those idle loiterers that 

• Bat nothing might relent his hasty flight,' Spenser F. Q. iii. 4. 


gather at this meeting of three roads.* 'Rivals' 
properly are those who dwell on the banks of the 
same river. But as all experience shows, there is 
no such fruitful source of contention as a water- 
right, and these would be often at strife with one 
another in regard of the periods during which they 
severally had a right to the use of the stream, turn- 
ing it off into their own fields before the time, or 
leaving open the sluices beyond the time, or in other 
ways interfering, or being counted to interfere, with 
the rights of their neighbors. And in this way ' ri- 
vals ' came to be applied to any who were on any 
grounds in unfriendly competition with one another. 
By such teaching as this you may often improve, 
and that without turning play-time into lesson-time, 
the hours of relaxation and amusement. But ' re- 
laxation/ on which we have just lighted as by 
chance, must not escape us. How can the bow be 
' relaxed ' or slackened (for this is the image), which 
has not been bent, whose string has never been 
drawn tight ? Having drawn tight the bow of our 
mind by earnest toil, we may then claim to have it 
from time to time * relaxed.' Having been attentive 
and assiduous then, but not otherwise, we may claim 
4 relaxation ' and amusement. But ' attentive ' and 
assiduous' are themselves words which will repay 

* But « trivial • may be from ' trivium * in another sense; that is, from 
the 'trivium,' or three preparatory disciplines— grammar, arithmetic 
and geometry, as distinguished from the four more advanced, or « quad- 
rivium '; these and those together being esteemed in the Middle Ages to 
constitute a complete liberal education. Preparatory schools were often 
called • trivia/ schools/ as occupying themselves with the * trivium.' 


us to understand exactly what they mean. He is 
' assiduous ' who sits close to his work ; he is ' at- 
tentive/ who, being taught, stretches out his neck 
that so he may not lose a word. ' Diligence ' too 
has its lesson. Derived from ' diligo/ to love, it re- 
minds us that the secret of true industry in our work 
is love of that work. And as truth is wrapped up 
in * diligence/ what a lie, on the other hand, lurks 
in ' indolence/ or, to speak more accurately, in our 
present employment of it ! This, from * in ' and 
' doleo/ not to grieve, is properly a state in which 
we have no grief or pain ; and employed as we now 
employ it, suggests to us that indulgence in sloth 
constitutes for us the truest negation of pain. Now 
no one would wish to deny that * pain ' and ' pains ' 
are often nearly allied ; but yet these pains hand us 
over to true pleasures ; while indolence is so far 
from yielding that good which it is so forward to 
promise, that Cowper spoke only truth, when, per- 
haps meaning to witness against the falsehood I 
have just denounced, he spoke of 

' Lives spent in indolence, and therefore sad? 

not * therefore glad? as the word ' indolence ' would 
fain have us to believe. 

There is another way in which these studies I 
have been urging may be turned to account. 
Doubtless you will seek to cherish in your scholars, 
to keep lively in yourselves, that spirit and temper 
which find a special interest in all relating to the 
land of our birth, that land which the providence of 
God has assigned as the sphere of our life's task 

378 THE schoolmaster's use of words. 

and of theirs. Our schools are called ' national/* 
and if we would have them such in reality, we must 
neglect nothing that will foster a national spirit in 
them. I know not whether this is sufficiently con- 
sidered among us ; yet certainly we cannot have 
Church-schools worthy the name, least of all in En- 
gland, unless they are truly national as well. It is 
the anti-national character of the Roman Catholic 
system which perhaps more than all else offends 
Englishmen ; and if their sense of this should ever 
grow weak, their protest against that system would 
soon lose much of its energy and strength. But 
here, as everywhere else, knowledge must be the 
food of love. Your pupils must know something 
about England, if they are to love, it ; they must 
see some connection of its past with its present, of 
what it has been with what it is, if they are to feel 
that past as anything to them. 

And as no impresses of the past are so abiding, 
so none, when once attention has been awakened to 
them, are so self-evident as those which names 
preserve ; although, without this calling of the 
attention to them, the most broad and obvious of 
these footprints which the past time has left may 
continue to escape our observation to the end of 
our lives. Leibnitz tells us, and one can quite un- 
derstand, the delight with which a great German 
Emperor, Maximilian I., discovered that 'Habs- 
burg/ or ' Hapsburg ' the ancestral name of his 
^ouse, really had a meaning, one moreover full 
of vigor and poetry. This he did, when he heard 
* This was written in England, and in the year 1851. 


it by accident on the lips of a Swiss peasant, 
no longer cut short and thus disguised, but in 
its original fulness, ' Habichtsburg/ or 'Hawk's- 
Tower/ being no doubt the name of the castle 
which was the cradle of his race.* Of all the 
thousands of Englishmen who are aware that 
Angles and Saxons established themselves in this 
island, and that we are in the main descended from 
them, it would be curious to know how many have 
realized to themselves a fact so obvious as that this 
' England ' means ' Angle-land,' or that in the names 
' Essex/ • Sussex/ and ' Middlesex/ we preserve a 
record of East Saxons, South Saxons, and Middle 
Saxons, who occupied those several portions of the 
land : or that * Norfolk ' and * Suffolk ' are two broad 
diyisions of ' northern ' and ' southern folk/ into 
which the East Anglian kingdom was divided. 
4 Cornwall ' does not bear its origin quite so plainly 
upon its front, or tell its story so that every 
one who runs may read. At the same time its 
secret is not hard to attain to. As the Teutonic 
immigrants advanced, such of the British population 
as were not either destroyed or absorbed by them 
retreated, as we all have learned, into Wales and 
Cornwall, that is, till they could retreat no further. 
The fact is evidently preserved in the name of 
' Wales/ which means properly ' The foreigners/ — 
the nations of Teutonic blood calling all bordering 
tribes by this name. But though not quite so 
apparent on the surface, this fact is also preserved 
in * Cornwall/ written formerly ' Cornwales/ or the 
* Opp. vol. vi. pt. 2. p. 20. 


land inhabited by the Welsh of the Corn or Horn. 
The chroniclers uniformly speak of North Wales 
and Corn- Wales.* These Angles, Saxons, and 
Britons or Welshmen, about whom our pupils may 
be reading, will be to them more like actual men of 
flesh and blood, who indeed trod this same soil 
which we are treading now, when we can thus point 
to traces surviving to the present day, which they 
have left behind them; and which England, as long 
as it is England, will retain. 

The Danes too have left their marks on the land. 
We all probably, more or less, are aware how much 
Danish blood runs in English veins ; what large 
colonies from Scandinavia (for as many may have 
come from Norway as from modern Denmark), set- 
tled in some parts of this island. It will be inter- 
esting to show that the limits of this Danish settle- 
ment and occupation may even now be confidently 
traced by the constant recurrence in all such dis- 
tricts of the names of towns and villages ending in 
' by,' which signified in their language a dwelling or 
single village ; as Nether*?, Applet, Der£j, Whit- 
by> Rug£j. Thus if you examine closely a map of 
Lincolnshire, one of the chief seats of the Danish 
settlement, you will find one hundred, or well-nigh 
a fourth part, of the towns and villages to have this 
ending, the whole coast being studded with them— 
they lie nearly as close to one another as in Sleswick 
itself ;t while here in Hampshire 'by/ as such a 

• [See Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, year 997, where mention is made of 
the Cornwealas, the Cornish people.] 

f Pott, Etym. Forsch, vol. ii. pt. 2, p. 117a. 


termination, is utterly unknown. Or again, draw a 
line transversely through England from Canterbury 
by London to Chester, the line, that is, of the great 
Roman road, called Watling Street, and north of 
this six hundred instances of the occurrence of the 
same termination' may be found, while to the south 
there are almost none. ' Thorpe/ equivalent to the 
German • dorf/ as BishopstAorpe, AXtAorp, tells the 
same tale of a Norse occupation of the soil ; and the 
terminations, somewhat rarer, of ' thwaite/ ' haugh ' 
4 garth,' ' ness/ do the same no less. On the other 
hand, where, as in this south of England, the ' hams ' 
abound (the word is identical with our ' home '), as 
Buckingham, JLgAatn, ShoreAam f there you may be 
sure that not Norsemen but West Germans took 
possession of the soil. ' Worth/ or * worthy/ tells 
the same story, as BoswortA, KingswortAy;* the 
1 stokes ' in like manner, as Basingstoke, Itchen- 
stoke, are Saxon, being (as some suppose) places 
stockaded, with stocks or piles for defence. 

You are yourselves learning, or hereafter you 
may be teaching others, the names and number of 
the English counties or shires. What a dull routine 
task for them and for you this may be, supplying 
no food for the intellect, no points of attachment 
for any of its higher powers to take hold of ! And 
yet in these two little words, ' shire * and ' county/ 
if you would make them render up even a small 
part of their treasure, what lessons of English his- 
tory are contained ! One who knows the origin of 
these names, and how we come to possess such a 
* See Sweet's Oldest English Texts (index). 


double nomenclature, looks far into the social con- 
dition of England in that period when the strong 
foundations of all that has since made England 
glorious and great were being laid ; by aid of these 
words may detect links which bind its present to 
its remotest past ; for of lands as of persons it may 
be said, ' the child is father of the man/ ' Shire' is 
connected with ' shear/ ' share/ and is properly a 
portion * shered ' or ' shorn ' off* When a Saxon 
king would create an earl, it did not lie in men's 
thoughts, accustomed as they were to deal with 
realities, that such could be a merely titular crea- 
tion or exist without territorial jurisdiction ; and a 
'share* or 'shire* was assigned him to govern, 
which also gave him his title. But at the Conquest 
this Saxon officer was displaced by a Norman, the 
'earl* by the 'count* — this title of 'count/ bor- 
rowed from the later Roman empire, meaning 
originally 'companion* (comes), one who had the 
honor of being closest companion to his leader ; 
and the ' shire ' was now the ' county ' (comitatus), 
as governed by this ' comes/ In that singular and 
inexplicable fortune of words, which causes some to 
disappear and die out under the circumstances ap- 
parently most favorable for life, others to hold 
their ground when all seemed against them, ' count* 
has disappeared from the titles of English nobility, 
while ' earl ' has recovered its place ; although in 

* [It must be confessed that there are insuperable difficulties in the 
way of connecting Anglo-Saxon scir with the verb steran, to shear, 
and of explaining it as equivalent to 'shorn oft' The derivation of 
* shire ' has not yet been ascertained.] 


evidence of the essential identity of the two titles, 
or offices rather, the wife of the earl is entitled a 
' countess ' ; and in further memorial of these great 
changes that, so long ago came over our land, the 
two names ' shire ' and ' county ' equally survive as 
in the main interchangeable words in our mouths. 

A large part of England, all that portion of it 
which the Saxons occupied, is divided into 'hun- 
dreds.' Have you ever asked yourselves what this 
division means, for something it must mean ? The 
'hundred' is supposed to have been originally a 
group or settlement of one hundred free families of 
Saxon incomers. If this was so, we have at once 
an explanation of the strange disproportion between 
the area of the ' hundred ' in the southern and in 
the more northern counties — the average number 
of square miles in a ' hundred * of Sussex or Kent 
being about four and twenty ; of Lancashire more 
than three hundred. The Saxon population would 
naturally be far the densest in the earlier settle- 
ments of the east and south, while more to the west 
and north their tenure would be one rather of con- 
quest than of colonization, and the free families 
much fewer and more scattered.* But further you 
have noticed, I dare say, the exceptional fact that 
the county of Sussex, besides the division into 
hundreds, is divided into six ' rapes ' ; thus the 
1 rape * of Bramber and so on. [This ' rape ' is con- 
nected by Lappenberg, ii. 405 (1881), with the 
Icl. hreppr, which according to the Gr&g&s was a 

* Kcmble, The Saxons in England, voL i. p. 420; Stubbs, Constitu- 
tional History of England, p. 98. 


district in which twenty or more peasants main- 
tained one poor person.] 

Let us a little consider, in conclusion, how we 
may usefully bring our etymologies and other no- 
tices of words to bear on the religious teaching 
which we would impart in our schools. To do this 
with much profit we must often deal with words as 
the Queen does with the gold and silver coin of the 
realm. When this has been current long, arid by 
often passing from man to man, with perhaps oc- 
casional clipping in dishonest hands, has lost not 
only the clear brightness, the well-defined sharpness 
of outline, but much of the weight and intrinsic 
value which it had when first issued from the royal 
mint, it is the sovereign's prerogative to recall it, 
and issue it anew, with the royal image stamped on 
it afresh, bright and sharp, weighty and full, as at 
first. Now to a process such as this the true mint- 
masters of language, and all of us may be such, will 
often submit the words which they use. Where 
use and custom have worn away their significance, 
we too may recall and issue them afresh. With 
how many it has thus fared ! — for example, with 
one which will be often in your mouths. You 
speak of the 'lessons' of the day; but what is 
' lessons * here for most of us save a lazy syn- 
onym for the morning and evening chapters 
appointed to be read in church ? But realize 
what the Church intended in calling these chap- 
ters by this name ; namely, that they should 
be the daily instruction of her children ; listen to 
them yourselves as such ; lead your scholars to re- 


gard them as such, and in this use of ' lessons ' 
what a lesson for every one of us there may be ! * 
( Bible ' itself, while we not irreverently use it, may 
yet be no more to us than the verbal sign by which 
we designate the written Word of God. Keep in 
mind that it properly means ' the book/ and nothing 
more ; that once it could be employed of any book 
(in Chaucer it is so), and what matter of thought 
and reflection lies in this our present restriction of 

* bible ' to one book, to the exclusion of all others ! 
So strong has been the sense of Holy Scripture be- 
ing ' the Book/ the worthiest and best, that book 
which explains all other books, standing up in their 
midst, — like Joseph's kingly sheaf, to which all the 
other sheaves did obeisance, — that this name of 
*Bible* or 'Book' has been restrained to it alone: 
just as ■ Scripture ' means no more than ' writing '; 
but this inspired Writing has been acknowledged 
so far above all other writings, that this name also 
it has obtained as exclusively its own. 

Again, something may be learned from knowing 
that the 'surname/ as distinguished from the 
' Christian ' name, is the name over and above, not 

* sire '-name, or name received from the father, as 
some explain, but 'sur'-name (super nomen). 
There was never, that is, a time when every bap- 
tized man had not a Christian name, the recogni- 
tion of his personal standing before God; while 
the surname, the name expressing his relation, not 
to the kingdom of God, but to a worldly society, is 

* [Still etymologically lessons means simply * readings,' the word 
representing French Uf<ms=*LAtm lectiones.\ 


of much later growth, superadded to the other, as 
the word itself declares. What a lesson at once in 
the growing up of a human society, and in the con- 
trast between it and the heavenly Society of the 
Church, might be appended to this explanation! 
There was a period when only a few had surnames; 
had, that is, any significance in the order of things 
temporal; while the Christian name from the first 
was the possession of every baptized man. All this 
might be brought usefully to bear on your exposi- 
tion of the first words in the Catechism. 

There are long words from the Latin which, de- 
sire as we may to use all plainness of speech, we 
cannot do without, nor find their adequate substi- 
tutes in homelier parts of our language; words 
which must always remain the vehicles of much of 
that truth whereby we live. Now in explaining 
these, make it your rule always to start, where you 
can, from the derivation, and to return to that as 
often as you can. Thus you wish to explain ' rev- 
elation/ How much will be gained if you can attach 
some distinct image to the word, one to which 
your scholars, as often as they hear it, may 
mentally recur. Nor is this difficult. God's ' rev- 
elation ' of Himself is a drawing back of the veil or 
curtain which concealed Him from men ; not man 
finding out God, but God discovering Himself to 
man ; all which is contained in the word. Or you 
wish to explain ' absolution.' Many will know that 
it has something to do with pardon of sins ; but 
how much more accurately will they know this, 
when they know that ' to absolve ' means ' to loosen 


from ' : God's ' absolution ' of men being his re- 
leasing of them from the bands of those sins with 
which they were bound. Here every one will con- 
nect a distinct image with the word, such as will 
always come to his help when he would realize 
what its precise meaning may be. That which was 
done for Lazarus naturally, the Lord exclaiming, 
1 Loose him, and let him go/ the same is done 
spiritually for us, when we receive the ' absolution ' 
of our sins. 

Tell your scholars that ' atonement ' means ' at- 
one-ment * — the setting at one of those who were at 
twain before, namely God and man, and they will 
attach to 'atonement* a definite meaning, which 
perhaps in no way else it would have possessed for 
them ; and, starting from this point, you may mus- 
ter the passages in Scriptures which describe the 
sinner's state as one of separation, estrangement, 
alienation, from God, the Christian's state as one in 
which he walks together with God, because the two 
have been set ' at one.' Or you have to deal with 
the following, ' to redeem,' • Redeemer,' ' redemp- 
tion.' Lose not yourselves in vague generalities, 
but fasten on the central point of these, that they 
imply a ' buying,' and not this merely, but a ' buy- 
ing back ' ; and then connect with them, so ex- 
plained, the whole circle of statements in Scripture 
which rest on this image, which speak of sin as a 
slavery, of sinners as bondsmen of Satan, of Christ's 
blood as a ransom, of the Christian as one restored 
to his liberty. 

Many words more suggest themselves ; I will not 


urge more than one ; but that one, because in it is 
a lesson more for ourselves than for others, and 
with such I would fain bring these lectures to a close. 
How solemn a truth we express when we name our 
work in this world our ' vocation/ or, which is the 
same in homelier Anglo-Saxon, our ' calling.' 
What a calming, elevating, ennobling view of the 
tasks appointed us in this world, this word gives us. 
We did not come to our work by accident ; we did 
not choose it for ourselves ; but, in the midst of 
much which may wear the appearance of accident 
and self-choosing, came to it by God's leading and 
appointment. How will this consideration help us 
to appreciate justly the dignity of our work, though 
it were far humbler work, even in the eyes of men, 
than that of any one of us here present 1 What an 
assistance in calming unsettled thoughts and de- 
sires, such as would make us wish to be something 
else than that which we are ! What a source of 
confidence, when we are tempted to lose heart, and 
to doubt whether we shall carry through our work 
with any blessing or profit to ourselves or to 
others ! It is our * vocation,' not our choosing but 
our ' calling ' ; and He who • called ' us to it will, 
if only we will ask Him, fit us for it, and strengthen 
us in it. 




I. The material helps of education. 

i. Mechanical devices. 

2. Models, maps, and books. 

3. Word implements. 

II. Learning and teaching. 

III. Safe and unsafe guides. 

IV. Common methods of investigation. 

1. Dr. Johnson's dictionary. 

2. Dr. Johnson's derivation of " peacock." 

3. Swift's derivation of " ostler" and " breeches." 
V. Random etymologies. 

1. Early. 

(a.) Manage. 

{p.) Varro : " pavo." 

(c.) Pliny : " panther." 

2. Medieval. 

(*.) "Sirens." 
(d.) "Apis." 
(c.) "Mors." 
3 Modern : " Girl." 

39& THE schoolmaster's use of words. 


I. Absurd etymology: "Crypt" 

II. Etymological maxims. 

i. Judge not by appearance. 

2. Do not depend on sounds. 

3. Much seems probable which is not true. 

(a.) " dens," •• tooth," " zahn." 

(£.) "xW " anser," " gans," and "goose." 

(c.) ," Much " and " mucho." 

(d.) " Vulgus " and " Volk." 

(e.) " Auge " and avyp. 

(/.) oXoi and " whole." 

III. Requisites for the successful study of words* 

1 . To disregard phenomena. 

2. To determine to seek the ground of things. 


I. Effects of phonetic spelling. 

1. Defaces language. 

2. Empties it of its treasures. 

3. Cuts the nerve between past and present. 

II. Its fundamental ideas. 

1. That words should be spelt as sounded. 

2. That writing should be subordinated to speaking. 
III. Objections to phonetic spelling. 

1. That words exist for the eye as well as the ear. 

2. That the permanence and continuity of language 

depend upon the written form. 
(a.) " Letters." 
(b.) " Literature." 
(c.) " Unlettered." 

IV. Gain and loss of phonetic spelling. 
A. Gain. 

1. Saving of labor in learning to spelL 

2. Diminished by changes. 



1. Obliteration of the ancestry of words, 

2. Obliteration of the relations of words. 

3. Annihilation of the soul of words. 

4. Testimony of Bacon. 

V. Results of phonetic spelling. 

A. Actual. 

1. "Savage." 

2. "Fancy." 

3. "Analize." 

4. "Terns." 

5. "Pois." 

B. Proposed : That the learned should descend to the 

level of the ignorant. 
VI. Disagreement of spelling reformers. 


I. Unsuspected relationship. 

10. " Wrong " and " to wring." 
20. " Tort " and " torqueo," etc. 
II. Kinship of groups of words. 

1. " Shire." 

2. "Shore." 

3. "Share." 

4. " Shears." 

5. "Shred." 

6. " Sherd." 

III. Words connected by one central meaning. 

1. " Post" in its various senses. 

2. " Stock" in its various senses. 

IV. Unrelated homonyms. 

1. "Page." 

2. "League." 

3. " Host" 


4. "Moods." 

5. "Sacks." 


I. Words which provoke and promise to reward 


1. " Candidate." 

2. "Ambition." 

3. " Verbum." 

4. " Classics." 

(0.) Roman origin. 
(b.) Common use. 
(c.) Restriction. 
II. Words used in a figurative sense. 

1. "Insult" 

2. "Afiront." 

3. "Succour." 

4. "Relent." 

5. "Reprehend." 

6. " Supercilious." 

7. " Subtle." 

8. " Astonished," etc. 

III. Words borrowed from life. 

1. "Trivial." 

2. "Rivals." 

IV. Study of words for recreation 

1. "Relaxation." 

2. " Attentive " and " assiduous. 1 * 

3. "Diligence." 

4. "Indolence." 


I. National schools. 


II. Impress of the past on names, 
i . " Habsburg " or l < Hapsburg." 

2. English relics. 

(a.) " England." 

(d.) " Sussex " and " Middlesex." 
(c.) " Norfolk " and " Suffolk." 
(d.) "Cornwall." 

3. Danish relics. 

4. Norse names. 

(a.) " Thorpe." 
(£.) "Thwaite." 

5. German relics. 

(a.) " Ham." 

(6.) " Worth," and " worthy » 
(c.) "Stoke." 
III. History in names. 

1. " Shire," " county," and " earL" 

2. " Hundreds " and " rapes." 

I. Words compared to money. 

1 . Wear and tear of money. 

2. Royal prerogative to recall. 

3. Recoined and reissued. 

4. Similar process in words. 
II. Church words. 

1 . " Lessons " of the day. 

2. "Bible." 

3. "Scripture." v 

4. " Surname " and " Christian" name. 
III. Latin words. 

1. "Revelation." 

2. "Absolution." 

3. "Atonement" 

IV* Conclusion: "Vocation." 


The Schoolmaster's Use of Words. 

What did the exhibition of 185 1 contain ? 

Were these educational helps merely mechanical ? 

What is true of such helps ? 

How are words potent implements ? 

What was said on the occasion of the exhibition referred to ? 

What is the object of the closing lecture ? 

How is the true scholar characterized ? 

What warning is necessary ? 

What must be kept in mind ? 

What is said of Niebuhr and others ? 

What is common among investigators of words ? 

How is Johnson's Dictionary criticised ? 

What was defective in his preparation for such a work ? 

What instance is given ? 

What derivations are suggested by Swift ? 

What is said of these etymologies? 

How is a word in one language often derived from another ? 

Give a few specimens of this style of dealing with words from 
early writers. 

What is said of Menage ? 

Mention some false medieval etymologies. Also, some of 
modern times. 

What does experience prove in reference to etymology ? 

questions. 395 

How is this illustrated by an anecdote ? 

What is the moral of the story ? 

What is true of the resemblance between words ? 

What maxim is quoted ? 

What is the testimony of Leibnitz ? 

What caution is given in reference to etymologies based on 

What has an illustrious scholar said about this ? 

Give some examples. 

How must phenomena be regarded ? 

What fable is suggested ? 

How is the true enquirer described ? 

What is said about phonetic spelling ? 

What is its fundamental idea ? 

What is the fallacy of the system ? 

How does every word exist ? 

What is the function of written words ? 

What is said about the gain of phonetic spelling ? 

How is this exaggerated ? 

What would result from changes in pronunciation ? 

What more serious charge is brought against phonetic spell- 

What is true of the ancestry of words ? 

What is true of the association of words ? 

What is true of the inner light of words ? 

What is true of the soul of words ? 

How is Bacon quoted in this connection ? 

How may we estimate the losses caused by phonetic spell- 

Illustrate with " fancy " ; " analyze." 

What is proposed by phonetic spelling ? 

What is said of an attempt to introduce phonography in 

What were some of the results ? 

What is said of the disagreement of spelling reformers ? 

What is true of the relationship of words ? 

What are many of our nouns ? 

Give examples of participles used as nouns. 


What can be done for groups of words which seem to ac* 
knowledge no kinship ? 

Illustrate with the verb " to sheer." 

What does the analysis of groups of words require ? 

What other process is suggested ? 

What is said of words used in different senses ? 

How should we regard words thus employed ? 

How should they be investigated ? 

What is originally true of words ? 

Illustrate with " post " in its various senses. Also, with 
" stock." 

What is said about words spelt and pronounced alike, but 
different in derivation and usage ? 

Give examples of this. 

Where is the identity in such words ? 

How do words differ in their promises and rewards ? 

Give the history of "candidate"; "ambition"; " ver- 

Why are " classics " so called ? 

What is true of words used in a figurative sense ? 

Give examples of this. 

What is the etymology of " trivial " ? 

What is said of this explanation of " trivial " ? 

What do we learn from " rivals " ? " relaxation " ? " assid- 
uous"? "diligence"? "indolence"? 

How can these word-studies be turned to account ? 

How are schools to be made " national " in the truest sense ? 

What is said of the impress of the past on names ? 

What is narrated of Maximilian the First ? 

What English names are suggested for illustration ? 

How have the Danes left their mark in England ? 

What kind of names are found in Lincolnshire ? 

Mention some Norse relics found in England. Also, Ger- 
man relics. 

What do we learn from " shire," " county," and " earl " ? 
What from " hundreds " ? " Rapes " ? 



How are words compared to money ? 

What do we learn from the words " lessons," " Bible," and 
! surname " ? 

What method should be followed with Latin words ? 
Illustrate with " revelation," and " absolution." 
What is the composition of " atonement " ? 
What is the central idea in " redemption " ? 
What word is suggested in conclusion ? 



The Schoolmaster's Use of Words. 

i. Abandon. 

2. Adieu. 

3. Afflict. 

4. Aftermath. 
5- Agog. 

6. Almanac. 

7. Antagonist. 

8. Antimony. 

9. Apology. 

10. Aquiline. 

11. Arabesque. 

12. Author. 

13. Baccnanalian. 

14. Bosphorus. 

15. Bourn. 

16. Brandy. ' 

17. Breakfast. 

18. Cablegram. 

19. Cadet. 

20. Cant. 

21. Caricature. 

22. Chapel. 

23. Character. 

24. Clergy. 

25. Climax. 

26. Cockle. 

27. Comedy. 

28. Comrade. 

29. Conscience. 

30. Corsair. 

31. Cousin. 

32. Croak. 

33. Dabchick. 

34. Dean. 

35. Dexterity. 

36. Disease. 

37. Disk. 

38. Distinguish. 

39. Doubt. 

40. Dragon. 

41. Dropsy. 

42. Euphuism. 


43. Electricity. 

44. Elephantine. 

45. Etiquette. 

46. Farm. 

47. FarewelL 

48. Ferret. 

49. Filbert 
50.' Flavor. 

51. Florin. 

52. Good-bye. 

53. Gossip. 

54. Guilt. 

55. Guy. 

56. Haberdasher. 

57. Harlequin. 

58. Havoc. 

59. Hawk. 

60. Hazard. 

61. Heaven. 

62. Hug. 

63. Hygiene. 

64. Insect. 

65. Jack. 

66. Job. 

67. Kidnap. 
6S. Label. 

69. Liturgy. 

70. Malapert 

71. MartiaL 

72. Melancholy. 

73. Mischief. 

74. Moat. 

75. Muscle. 

76. Mystery. 

77. Neighbor. 

78. Nephew. 

79. Osprey. 

80. Pamphlet. 

81. Paramour. 

82. Parrot. 

83. Peculiar. 

84. Pert. 

85. Pew. 

86. Popinjay. 

87. Pry. 

88. Protocol. 

89. Racy. 

90. Sanscrit. 

91. Snob. 

92. Tally. 

93. Tartar. 

94. Tea. 

95. Team. 

96. Telephone. 

97. Wampum. 

98. Wigwam. 

99. Wife. 
100. Woman. 


i. Abominable. 

2. Abundance. 

3. Advocate. 

4. Affable. 

5. Alert. 

6. Allude. 

7. Andalusia. 

8. Anemone. 

9. Ascertain. 

10. Atom. 

11. Auspicious. 

12. Bad. 

13. Baffled. 

14. Baluster. 

15. Bankrupt. 

16. Bedlam. 
*7« Beggar. 

18. Beldame. 

19. Belfry. 

20. Blue-stocking. 

21. Bore. 

22. Brand-new. 

23. Bribe. 

24. Brigand. 

25. Buffoon. 

26. Caesar. 

27. Candor. 

28. Catarrh. 

29. Cater. 

30. Cemetery. 

31. Chivalry. 

32. Chrysostom. 

33. Clown. 

34. Congeries. 

35. Consider. 

36. Contraband. 

37. Corpse. 

38. Coward. 

39. Craven. 

40. Crony. 

41. Crawfish. 

42. Crusade. 

43. Cunning. 

44. Curmudgeon. 

45. Dandelion. 

46. Dandy. 

47. Dastard. 

48. Debate. 

49. Debauch. 

50. Debonaire. 

51. Decent. 

52. Defalcation. 

53. Deliberation. 

54. Delirium. 

55. Demoralization* 

56. Diadem. 

57. Digit. 

58. Egregious. 

59. Enthusiasm. 

60. Equivocation. 

61. Exorbitant. 

62. Extenuate. 

63. Facetious. 

64. Faint, 



65. Fanatic. 

66. Father-land. 

67. Felon. 

68. Fellow. 

69. Female. 

70. Foible. 

71. Foolscap. 

72. Freemason. 

73. Freshet. 

74. Friar. 

75. Frontispiece. 

76. Frugal. 

77. Furlong. 

78. Gasconade. 

79. Gibberish. 

80. Gladiolus. 

81. Gooseberry. 

82. Grocer. 

83. Guilt. 

84. Gusto. 

85. Handsome. 

86. Helterskelter. 

87. Homely. 

88. Humor. 

89. Hyperborean. 

90. Idea. 

91. Imbroglio. 

92. Ignoramus. 

93. Infant. 

94. Insinuate. 

95. Interlard. 

96. Intuition. 

97. Inveterate. 

98. Island. 

99. Kindly. 
100. King, 
xoi. Let. 

02. Lethe. 
[03. Liberal. 
[04. Loadstone. 
[05. London. 
06. Lout. 
[07. Luxury. 
[08. Maxim. 
[09. Meddle. 

10. Minute. 

11. Modern. 

12. Morn. 

13. Mortal. 

14. Mortified. 

15. Mountebank. 

16. Negotiate. 

17. Newfoundland* 

18. Nice. 

19. Nightmare. 

20. Nostrum. 

21. Nugget. 

22. Occident. 

23. Ocean. 

24. Ogre. 
[25. Omnibus. 

26. Orient. 

27. Painful. 

28. Palmy. 

29. Pantaloon. 
[30. Parasite. 

1. Parliament. 
32. Parlor. 
[33. Pensive. 
[34. Peremptory. 
[35. Pernicious. 
[36. Photograph. 
37. Plunder. 
[38. Poltroon, 



139. Precocious. 

140. Preposterous. 

141. Prevaricate. 

142. Proctor. 

143. Prose. 

144. Providence. 

145. Provost. 

146. Quaint. 

147. Qualification. 

148. Quarry. 

149. Quixotic. 

150. Radical. 

151. Rascal. 

152. Relish. 

153. Reluctance. 

154. Ridicule. 

155. Rob. 

156. Rose-mary. 

157. Satire. 

158. Saucy. 

159. Scamp. 

160. Sceptre. 

161. Scoundrel. 

162. Scrupulous. 

163. Sensible. 

164. Sexton. 

165. Sinister. 

166. Squirrel. 

167. Stickler. 

168. Stigmatize. 

169. Stereotype. 

170. Strange. 

171. Style. 

172. Subtle. 

173. Suspense. 








































Abbacinare 107 

Aborigines 198 

Absolution , 387 

Academy 192 

Acheron 82 

Adventurer. 108 

Affront 374 

Agate 189 

Aldxpo* 138 

Aiutata 130 

Ajax 45 

* Axpoorrjpid^ety 107 

Albern 125 

Albert 72 

Albion 79 

Alcoran 255 

Alderman 209 

Alemanni 229 

Alligator 254 

Alms 268 

Ambition 373 

America 197, 229 

Amethyst 204 

Ammonia. 193 

Ammonite 193 

Analyze 364 

Ananas 254 

Anglia 379 

Animosity 112 

Antistrophic 251 


Apocryphal 278 

Argiletum 82 

Arras 189 

Arsenic 204 

Artesian 188 

Artful 109 

Artifice 306 

"AproS f 202 

Ascendancy 204 

Asia Minor 229 

Asmissimo. 260 

Assassin 174 

Assentation 119 

Assentator 118 

Assiduous 377 

Assimilation 243 

Astonished 375 

Atavism 251 

Athanasius 48 

Athens? 90 

Atlas , 191 

Atonement. • 387 

Attentive 377 

Atrius Umber 51 

AvroraroS 260 

Avernus 83 

Avunculize 261 

Bafbmet 49 

Baldachin 188 





Bantam 190 

Banter 258 

Barb. 190 

Barn. 106 

Barnacle 204 

Basilisk 86 

Bayonet 188 

Beatftas, beatitndo. 249 

Beguine. 271 

Beldam 108 

Bergamot 190 

Bezant 190 

Bible. 385 

Biggen. 189 

Bilbao 188 

Bishop 268 

Blackbird 206 

Blackleg 132, 135 

Blague, blagueur. 262 

Bohemian 198 

Bonaparte 46 

Bonhomie 1 26 

Boor 108 

Boycott 259 

Breviary 272 

Brunt 312 

Buccaneer 131 

Burke 259 

Cadaver 274 

Cagot 271 

Calamitas 199 

Calico 189 

California 275 

Calling 3»* 

Cambric 188 

Camellia 194 

Camelopard . . 86 

Canada 275 

Canary 190 

Candidate 372 

Candle 205 


Cannibal 275 

Canonical 228 

Caprice.' 78 

Capuchin 185 

Carbuncums 89 

Cardinal 174 

Carp no 

Carronade 188 

Casdmere 189 

Catchpok 143 

Catholic 183,186, 228 

CavaDoni 74 

Celadon 195 

Celandine .... * 85 

Cerf- volant 86 

Chalcedony 189 

Chapel - 273 

Cheat, cheater 143 

Chevalier d'industrie 132 

Chimerical 191 

Chouan 275 

Chrestus 126 

Christian 228, 230 

Christology 267 

Christus. 126 

Church 168 

Ciborium ;...; 273 

Cicerone 192 

Clara 50 

Classical 182 

Classics %.... 373 

Clesel.... 4* 

Club 144 

Cockatrice 180 

Cocytus ; 82 

Collect 272 

Columba 50 

Companion 375 

Conceit 109 

CondHatrix. 132 

Concomitance 228 

Confidens... ,,... 147 




Convertisseur 256 

Convey 132 

Copper 188 

Copperhead 135 

Cordwain 189 

Cornwall 379 

Cosmopolite.* 240 

Cosmos 230 

Costard-monger • • ..... 206 

Count 382 

County ... 382 

Crafty 109 

Cravat 189 

Crawler 108 

Crocodile 91 

Crypt 357 

Crystal 179 

Cuckoo-flower 83 

Cunning. ....... 109 

Curfew 200 

Curia Romana 139 

Currant 190 

Cynarctomachy 261 

Cyprian 48 

Dabones 260 

Dactyle 92 

Daffodil) 269 

Daft ^ 109 

Dahlia 194 

Daisy 84 

Dalmatic 189 

Damask 189 

Damhele 209 

Damson 190 

Jarao&rarof 260 

Dapper no 

Daric 19a 

Days of the Week... 207 

Decimate 205 

Dedal 191 

Delator 256 


Delf 189 

Demonetize 242 

Demure 109 

Denigreur 119 

Derailkr 337 

Derayer 337 

Derrick 193 

Despecificate 309 

Desultory 77 

Desynonymize 307 

Device 280 

Dictator 306 

Dilapidated 22 

Diligence 377 

Dinde 197 

Dime no 

Disastrous. 204 

Discernment 333 

Discretion 333 

Dissembly 49 

Dissimilation 243 

Distemper 202 

Dittany 190,269 

Diversion 23 

Divine 49 

Dolomite 1 95 

Dominican 5° 

Dominissimus. 260 

Donat 193 

Doncelle 209 

dooprtpa 122 

Dormitantius 46 

Dosones 260 

Dragonnade 256 

Drepanum 80 

Dropsy,, 269 

Druid 199 

Duflel 189 

Dunce 177 

Eaude vie 133 

Ecstasy * 24, 321 




Eipmrna 303 

Electron*. 306 

Eleemosynary 269 

EJend 94 

EDinge...... 94 

Ember 272 

England 229 

Ennui I3 6 

9 EftixcnpBKOMia 107 

Epicure 9* 

Epidamnus 52 

Epiphanes 4 s 

Episcopal 268 

Erigena 272 

Escheat 143 

Escobarder. 195 

Esemplastfc 249 

Essay 265 

Essene 272 

Essentia 249 

Essfl. 94 

Esther 7* 

Evrfltia 126 

EvXoyia 5* 

Eumenides 5 2 

Europe. 229 

Euxine. S 2 

Exonerate 375 

Expend, expense 201 

Extradition 243 

Extraforaneons 261 

Facinus 147 

Faience 190 

Fancy 364 

Favor 265 

Fee 201 

Fiacre 196 

Hnesse 306 

Fire-water 133 

Flamboyant 93 

Flaneur 263 

Florence • 8t 

Florida. 81 

Formica. 355 

Fortunate 127 

Founniller 78 

Frank. 25.173,229 

Frieze 188 

Fuchsia 194 

Fuller 5° 

Fustian 188 

Galloway. 190 

Galvanism , 195 

Gamboge 189 

Gamin. 263 

Ganch 107 

Garble Hi 

Gas 277 

Gaunt 44 

Gauze 189 

Gene 136 

Gentian. 192 

German, Germany 229, 274 

Gigmanity 261 

Gtttcup 84 

Gipsy 197 

Glaubers. 192 

Glycyrize 276 

Gnostic 186 

Gobelin 194 

Godscare... 93 

Golden knob... 87 

Golden rain. 85 

Golden spears 81 

Goldfinch 86 

Good people.... 52 

Gordian 191 

ropytattiv 195 

Gospel 228 

Gothic 181 

Goulard 194 

Greek 229 




Guillotine 196, 25 7 

Guinea 190 

Gulf of Lyons 198 

Hablar 146 

Habler 146 

Habsburg 37* 

Haft 366 

Halcyon 88 

Hands 127 

Hansom 195 

Happiness .... 127 

Haversack.* 206 

Heathen 170 

Hector 196 

Helen 47 

Herculean 191 

Hermeneutics 208 

Hermetic 191 

*E$i% 122 

Hidalgo 276 

Hildebrand 47 

Himalaya 80 

Hipocras 192 

"OXoS 358 

Homoousion 39 

Honn&ete' 137 

Honor 129 

Hostia 83 

Hottentot 275 

Huguenot 271 

Humanitas 120 

Humility 114 

Humor, humors. 202 

Hundred 383 

* rxoxopiZedBia 132 

Hurricane 199 

Hus 45 

Iapetus. ... 199 

Idiot 137 

'I6totrt?{ 137 


Idolatry 235 

Impatientia 248 

Impotens 120 

Incivisme 257 

India 229 

Indigentia 248 

Indigo 189 

Indo-European. 181 

Indolence 377 

Indolentia 247, 248 

Ineptus 145 

Iners. 83 

Infanticidium 238 

Influence 204 

Innocent 126 

Insult 374 

Integrity 117 

Invidentia 248 

Invidia. 247 

Irenaeus 49 

Isothermal 251 

Italy 229 

Jaherr 118 

Jalap 189 

Jane 189 

Japheth. 1 99 

Jehovah „ 199 

Jet 189 

Journey 205 

Jove 199 

Jovial 203 

Jutland 198 

Ka\6* 138 

Karfunkel 89 

Kartoffel 253 

Kerseymere . • • 189 

Ketzer 271 

Kickshaws 269 

Kind 123 

Kingfisher 8(5 




Knave 108 

Knobstick 135 

Labarum 273 

Laburnum 85 

Lady-bird 87 

Lambiner 195 

Landau 190 

Lanterner. 257 

Larder „ 206 

Latium 82 

Latro 147 

Lazar, lazaretto 192 

Leer 109 

Legend 175 

Lcichtsinnig 109 

Leman 108 

Lendemain 255 

Leonine 279 

Leopard 180 

Lesson 381 

Letters 361 

Lewd . no 

libertine 119 

Library 201 

Licorice 276 

Lierre 255 

Limbo 228 

Limner 200 

Lingot... 255 

Lollard 271 

Long pig 131 

Love-child 131 

Lucubration 206 

Lumber 200 

Lunacy 208 

Luscinia 89 

Lutheran 185 

Lyons, Gulf of. 198 

Macassar 190 

Macedonia 229 


Maculist 135 

Madagascar 229 

Madeira 81 

Magnesia 188 

Magnet 188 

Magnolia 194 

Mahomet 49 

Majolica 190 

Maleventum 52 

Malevokntia 107 

Malignant 134 

Malmsey 190 

Manes 48 

Manichseus 48 

Mansarde 195 

Marah 44 

Marechal, marshal. 209 

Margaret 72 

Marivaudage 195 

Marshal 111,209 

Martinet .... 195 

Mass 273 

Matriarch 261 

Maudlin no 

Mausoleum 192 

Mawmet 178 

Megrim 269 

MeXXortxtdoo 260 

Menial 108 

Mentor 196 

Mephistopheles 275 

Mercurial 203 

Mere-grot 89 

Merkani 276, 321 

Merry Dancers 87 

Methodist 185 

Metrophanes 49 

Metternich 49 

Miniature 205 

Minion 108 

Miscreant • • ... 174 

Miser 116 




Mithridate 192 

Mob 258 

Momicrs. 185 

Monachus 228 

Monk 228 

Monody 206 

Mons Pileatus 91 

Morbidezza 141 

Morea 80 

Morganatic 274 

Morimo 33 

Mors 355 

Mosaic 273 

Mouth in 

Mouton 46 

Much, mucho . .. 358 

Mulierositas 249 

Muslin 189 

Nabai 44 

Naomi 44 

Naples 206 

Natal 83 

Natolie 255 

Naturalist 321 

Nausea 206 

Negus 193 

Neologist 249 

Neutralization 243 

New Forest 206 

Newt 255 

New Testament 228 

Nicotine 194 

Nightingale 89 

Nirvana 39 

Noah's Ark 87 

Nonna 228 

Norman 229 

No6rtfioi 94 

Novelist 321 

Noyade 257 

Nun 228 

Nydiot 255 


Obligation, oblige .... 122 

Obsequium 265 

Occissimus 26b 

Octogamy 260 

Oculissimus. 260 

Officious 109 

Orgies 109 

Orrery ■. 194 

Ottoman 192 

Padischah 331 

Pagan 169 

Pain 116 

Palace 206 

Palm oil 132 

Palsy 269 

Pander 196 

Panic 191 

Pantaloons 193 

Panther 355 

Papabk 251 

Paper 201 

Paradise 114 

Paraffin 276 

Paralysis 269 

Paramour 108 

Parchment 190 

Parlar 147 

Parler 147 

Pasquinade 193 

Passion 120 

Pastime 23 

Patata.. 253 

Patch 193 

Paterine 272 

Patres Conscripti. 274 

Patruissimus 260 

Paulician 272 

Pavaner 78 

Pavo 355 

Peace 138 

Peach. 190 

Peacock 354 



Pecore. . . . 
Pecunia. .. 
Pcnthens. . 



.. 108 

.. 4» 
.. 141 
.. 280 

.. 45 

.. 191 

.. 137 
.. no 

Petrel 87 

P&rokuse 258 

Pfrffe 143 

Pheasant 190 

Phfladelphus 46 

Philippic 192 

Philofelist 261 

Philosopher 266 

$i\66ropyoi 145 

Philpot 51 

Phlegethon . 82 

Phoebe 208 

Physician 245 

Piagnoni 135 

Pineapple 254 

Plague 116 

Plantation 321 

Plausible no 

Poenitentia 302 

Poet 245 

Poids 363 

Pois 363 

Poix 363 

Pompifex 48 

Pope 210 

JJovqpia 118 

Post 368 

Potato 253 

Pot de via 132 

Potus 130 

Poudre de succession 130 

Pransus , . . 130 


Prejudice, prejudicial 112 

Prester John 272 

Prime Minister 186 

Privilegium. 49 

Prometheus 46 

Probable 322 

Pronuba 147 

Proser 108 

Protean 191 

Province 274 

Prude 124 

Prussian 229 

Quadrivium. 376 

Quarantine 205 

Quassia 194 

Quean, queen 210 

Quince 190 

Quinsy 269 

Quintessence. 204 

Quirites 274 

R»pe 383 

Rapture 24 

Rationalist 266 

Ratten 259 

Ravishment 24 

Razzia 258 

Redeemer 387 

Reformation k . . . 183 

Refugee 256 

Regeneration 114 

Rejoice 139 

Relaxation 376 

Relent 375 

Religion 24 

Renaissance 182 

Reprehend 375 

Resentment. in 

Resipiscentia 303 

Retaliation 111 

Retract 113 




Revelation 386 

Reynard * . . 196 

Rhubarb 189 

Rickets 269 

Ringleader 109 

Rivals 376 

Rococo 363 

Rodomontade 196 

Romantic 182 

Rome 229 

Roquelauie 194 

Rose-window 93 

RotsignoL 89 

Ron* 257 

Roundhead 270 

Rubric 205 

Sacrament 171 

Ssdig 125 

Salic 27$ 

Salutificator 237 

Salvator 237 

Sangraal...... 273 

Sansculotte 2$ 7 

Sarcasm 37$ 

Sarcenet 188 

Sarcophagus 205 

SardanapaHsme 19$ 

Sardonic 204 

Satanasras...* 48 

Saturnine 203 

Saturnus , 274 

$•▼*** 364 

Sbirri 142 

Scab. 135 

Schadenfreude 107 

Schalk no 

Schlecht 125 

Scripture. 385 

Secularisation 243 

Sed&kat 126 

Segesta 4 52 


Self-sufficient 14b 

Semitic 181 

Seneschal in 

Senlac 90 

Senno 303 

Servator. 237 

Severitas 274 

Shaddock 194 

Shakespeare 50 

Shalloon 189 

Sham.... 258 

Sheepish 126 

Sherry. ..... 190 

Shire 381 

Shortpig 131 

Sierra * 22 

Sign 200 

Silhouette 195 

Silk 189 

Sffly 12$ 

Simony 192 

Simple 124 

Sincere 375 

Siren 355 

Slave. 26 

SIoto 27 

Sniveller 135 

Solecism 191 

Soliloquim 265 

2d/iara 127 

Sophist iyi 

Sorbonne •>, 40 

Spaniel 190 

Specious , . ,, no 

Spencer. 194 

Spindle-side 91 

Spirituel 137 

Squatter 210 

Squirrel 86,269 

Stratagem 306 

Stellio ..86,92 

SteUionatus 92 






Sterling.. 190 

Sterry 47 

Stipulation 200 

Stirrups 205 

Stock 369 

Stoke. 381 

Styx 82 

Subtle 375 

Sucrinum 306 

Succor 375 

Supercilious 375 

Superstition 280 

Surgeon 269 

Surname 385 

Surplice 205 

Susanna 72 

Swindler 109 

Sword-side 91 

Sychar ... . 49 

Sycophant 280 

Synonym 299 


Abdicate, desert 330 

.Abhor, detest, hate, loathe. 318 

Apprehend, comprehend.. 326 
Arrogant, insolent, pre- 

sumptuous 317 

Astrology, astronomy. .... 315 

Authentic, genuine 319 

Blanch, whiten .... 314 

Benefice, fief. 335 

Charity, lore 313 

Cloke, palliate 314 

Compulsion, obligation. . . . 329 

Congratulate, felicitate. . . . 324 

Contrary, opposite 327 

Despair, diffidence 315 

Detraction, slander 335 

Discover, invent 324 


Education, instruction .... 329 

Enthusiasm, fanaticism. . . . 309 

Envy, emulation 335 

Famine, hunger 310 

Fancy, imagination 308 

Illegible, unreadable 314 

Interference, interposition. 316 

Nave, ship 314 

Nay,no ... 317 

Revenge, vengeance 311 

Vindicta, ultio 311 

Yea, yes 317 

Tabinet 194 

Talent 121 

Tansy 269 

Tantalize 191 

Taprobane 81 

Tarantula 190 

Tartufo 253 

Tawdry ., no 

Temper 202 

Terrorisme 257 

Tertulia 192 

Teuffel 47 

Theocracy 236 

Theotokos 39 

Thorpe 381 

Thrasonical 196 

Tilbury 190 

Timeserver 109 

Tinsel no 

Tobacco 189 

Tolosa ... 49 

Tolpatchery 261 

Tontine 194 

Topaz 88 

Tormentpso 52 

Tort 366 

Tory 1&1 

T °« •.. 4? 




Tragedy 279 

Transliteration 243 

Transport 24 

Transubstantiation 39, 228 

Tribulation 75 

Trick 306 

Trinacria 80 

Trinacris 83 

Trinity. 228 

Tritkum 75 

Trivial, trivium 375 

Torbanus 49 

Turkey 197 

Turquoise 189 

Tyrant, tyranny 230 

Unfortunate. 127 

Unitarian 183 

Urbanus 265 

Usignuolo 90 

Vane 47 

Varkt 108 

Vaticide. 261 

Vengeance 311 

Verb. 373 

Verbum 303, 373 

Vent*. 137 

Vernicle 192 

Verres 48 

Vespasian 194 

Victima 83 


Vigilantius 45 

Villain •. 108 

Vincentius 50 

Virtue 122 

Virtuoso 140 

Virtus 141 

Vitiositas 248 

Vixerunt 52 

Vocalitas 248 

Vocation 388 

Volcanic 191 

Voltaic 195 

Voluble no 

Volume 20X 

Waldenses 48, 272 

Wales 379 

Wench 109 

Whig 184 

Whitsunday 273 

Widif 49 

Wile 306 

Windfenner 87 

Windhover 87 

Worsted 188 

Worth, worthy *. 38 1 

Wrong 366 

Yankee 275 

Zigeuner 274 

To avoid fine, this book should be returned on 
or before the date last stamped below 

FEB?!* 1953 

Ar " 2 friz 

3 blDS 003 ta? aa? 

— -_■"--".""